If chemistry were all, then the sparks Amy Adams and Matthew Goode set off would be enough in "Leap Year," a romantic comedy in which those sparks never quite ignite.
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.
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 Dingell, 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.”
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.
* * 1/2 * *
Director: Anand Tucker
Cast: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, John Lithgow, Adam Scott
Running time: 1:35
Rating: PG; sensuality and language
Where: Wide release