Sunday, January 10, 2010

Review: 'Leap Year' [D+]

By Chase Kahn

It's almost comical how many genre conventions are employed in Anand Tucker's exhaustingly phony and phoned-in romantic tripe, but that would mislead some people into believing that Leap Year is actually funny. It isn't just a slow-drip of queasy, predictable amorous balderdash, but an uncontrolled geyser.

The film isn't so much written by Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont as it is regurgitated - partly from the duo's own insufferable filth in 2008's Made of Honor. Anna, a love-starved yuppie (Amy Adams) travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day, an Irish tradition.

Through a series of intense interruptions by mother nature (perhaps an unsuccesful attempt at preventing the audience's oncoming misery) she finds her and her Louis Vuitton traveling case stranded at an old Irish pub, where a good deal of wise-cracking, Lucky Charms drunkards are there to greet her along with a cynical, yet quietly dreamy Declan (Matthew Goode), who in an attempt to pay off the bills on his bar/restaraunt, agrees to drive Anna to Dublin where her snappy, hair-gel beau (Adam Scott) awaits.

From here, Leap Year stumbles into a cinematic freefall of hackneyed coincidence and squeamish banality, as Anna and Declan magically realize, on their soul-searching journey through the Irish countryside, (which apparently is photographed to resemble Middle-Earth more than anything) that they may have more in common than they first thought.

To duplicate the mechanics of Leap Year, all you would have to do is write two characters who start off hating each other, reveal love-broken, torturous backstories, write a scene where the two have to pretend that they're a couple in the eyes of strangers and then have them stumble into a wedding. If that's not enough to win over the studio execs, write a confessional speech in a public setting, where one pronounces their love to the other. (Yes, all of these things happen.)

There's even plenty of city-girl-lost-in-the-countryside humor (as seen in The Proposal and New in Town) plus a borderline-offensive Irish-folk soundtrack that sounds like one of those regional music-sampler kiosks that you would find in a Super Target.

And no, not even the charms of Amy Adams could elevate this material beyond the rubbish that it so obviously revels in. If they renamed it Romantic Movie and inserted the Wayans Brothers, it would make for one extremely perceptive parody - if only the Wayans were that subtle.

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