Like last year’s dire Isla Fisher vehicle Confessions Of A Shopaholic, Leap Year pits the megawatt charm of an adorable actress against the inanity of the romantic comedy at its most insultingly convoluted and ridiculous. Star Amy Adams is a sentient ball of cuteness, but not even she nor her appealing co-star Matthew Goode can keep this gimmicky contraption afloat. There isn’t a spontaneous or unpredictable moment in this loving, perversely reverent homage to rom-com, road-movie, and mismatched-romance conventions.
Adams stars as a disturbingly ubiquitous romantic-comedy fixture: a seemingly sane, attractive, reasonable young woman whose life revolves around getting her boyfriend (professional cad Adam Scott, whose face is more recognizable than his name) to marry her. So when Adams learns of an obscure/bullshit Irish tradition in which women are allowed to propose to their boyfriends on February 29 (a transgression apparently punishable by death every other day of the year), she heads to Ireland on the next plane so she can pop the question to Scott’s Stuffy Q. Borington in a socially acceptable fashion. En route to her date with destiny, Adams joins forces with a rough-hewn, wisecracking Irish saloon-keeper (Goode) who snorts derisively at her highfalutin, pushy big-city ways. These crazy kids couldn’t be more different: At first, they battle incessantly, but before long, the beauty of the Irish countryside and a series of shared misadventures begin to melt their cold, cold hearts.
With a supporting cast populated by stock Irish characters seemingly imported wholesale from a stage adaptation of Waking Ned Devine, Leap Year subscribes to a cozily retrograde vision of Ireland as a quaint wonderland full of dreamers, drinkers, and true romantics untroubled by the caffeinated foolishness of contemporary life. Leap Year plays against Adams’ innate likeability by casting her as a shrill, husband-hungry striver single-mindedly intent on ensnaring a snooty blueblood in her mantrap. The film functions as the cinematic equivalent of a Shamrock Shake: sickeningly, artificially sweet, formulaic, and about as authentically Gaelic as an Irish Spring commercial.