Just in case there was a perception that this critic had gone soft after my Valentine’s Day smootch-up with Pretty Woman, here’s the other side of the coin presented as a hate-watch. Two great personable stars, lovely Irish scenery, an unofficial make-over of a rom-com classic I Know Where I’m Going! How could Leap Year fail to be anything but a head-spinningly wonderful warm and fuzzy experience? It’s a lot harder to make a good rom-com than it looks, partly because the naturalness is so hard won; Anand Tucker’s film is so painfully contrived that it drains the spirit and disturbs the soul; rarely has a film strived for laughs to so little effect.
If you’ve seen I Know Where I’m Going!, you’ve seen this, but a hundred times better. That film was about a headstrong young woman in transit, desperate to get married, who gets waylaid by the inclement weather, uncertain ferry conditions, and a lovable Celtic rogue who turns out to be the man of her dreams, while the no-longer-required and now outdated model gathers moss at their destination point. Update that story, throw in the wonderful Amy Adams and strike sparks with the charming Matthew Goode, and you’ve got a winner, right? Nope, you’ve got a sparking turd of a movie, insulting to the audience, the Irish community, and anyone hoping to see a decent story.
‘What are you, a leprechaun?’ is one of the choicer lines here; Anna (Adams) heads to Ireland to establish a base for a leap year proposal to her beau (Adam Scott), but ends up getting a lift across Ireland with smoothie Declan (Goode) in his beat-up little car. But when the road is blocked by sheep, the couple get out and the car rolls down the hill and into a river! Such obstacles multiply. Anna is quarry to the gangs of men who drive around the Irish countryside preying on vulnerable woman, while trains, buses and transport only leave once in a blue moon, and the locals are scam-artists and religious bigots. How this version of Ireland would charm anyone, never mind Anna, isn’t explained, and her decision to take up with Declan makes no sense in that 1) they lie to each other constantly 2) they live in different continents and 3) they hate everything about each other’s actual lives.
From the writer ‘s mind behind The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Josie and the Pussycats, Surviving Christmas and Made of Honour, this is the fifth atrocity in a row and surely grounds for retirement; I won’t name the guilty party. But taking on of the great Celtic love-stories and ruining it which cheap jibes about leprechauns is a mortal sin, and Leap Year leans into that sense of wrongness. Goode looks embarrassed, Adams is shrill, the film sucks, and you, well, you’re better than this; look elsewhere for your entertainment and have a little self-respect. And no, it’s not a leap year this year, so no reason to look at this at all.