If chemistry were all, then the sparks Amy Adams and Matthew Goode set off might be enough in ‘Leap Year,’ a romantic comedy in which those sparks never quite ignite.
Wrapped too tight American meets louche, world-weary Irishman? Add Guinness and a few laughs and at LEAST a PG-13 rating and we’ll talk.
She plays Anna, an over-organized real-estate “stager,” that person who comes in before an open house, puts out flowers and bakes cookies, all to trick prospective buyers into thinking they’re “home.” She and long-term beau Jeremy (Adam Scott), the cardiologist, have a shot at getting into Boston’s exclusive “Davenport” luxury apartment building. What they don’t have is a date — for a wedding, or even plans for a date. Four years in and workaholic boyfriend can’t pull the trigger on this “convenient” romance.
But when he is off to a conference in Dublin, her dad (John Lithgow) reminds her of the Irish tradition that grandma used to snare grandpa. On leap day in a leap year, the ladies in Ireland get to do the proposing.
Anna leaps on a plane to go and close the deal. “I’m on a schedule,” she snaps when weather re-directs her to Wales. But her dangerous crossing of the Irish Sea isn’t the worst of it. Once she shows up in Dingle, the only person who can get her to Dublin in time is the cynical, financially-strapped pub owner, Declan (Goode), who isn’t keen to go to “a city of chancers and cheats.” But he does.
Will mishap-prone Anna get them killed? Will she ever get past his nickname for her (“EEED-jut”) and see his charm?
Anand Tucker (“Shopgirl”) is not the first, or fourth name that comes to mind when you’re looking for a romantic comedy director. He gives us a generous selection of heart-melting Adams close-ups. But his touch is heavy-handed, the pacing is sluggish and he doesn’t know how to use the locations for warmth or how to cast the standard issue Irish bit players for “local color.” Romantic comedies should sparkle. Tucker doesn’t do “sparkle.”
Irish character actors abound, but are given entirely too little to do. There’s barely a hint of “diddley aye” music.
The “Made of Honor” screenwriters don’t deliver enough jokes or feisty exchanges between the ill-matched traveling companions. The PG rating robs the picture of that well-placed curse that lets us laugh at the obstacles to love the couple encounter on their quest.
It’s a romantic comedy. We know where this is going. Tucker & Co. don’t seem to realize that it’s not the destination, it’s the witty, winsome journey that counts.
Rating: PG for sensuality and language
Cast: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, ADam Scott, John Lithgow,
Credits: Directed by Anand Tucker, scripted by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont. A Universal release, now on Netflix, Amazon, etc.
Running time: 1:40