Friday, January 6, 2012

Leap Year: Jumping Right Into … Predictability

Of course, it’s only the first week of 2012 and I’ve already caught an ear infection. Being stuck home in bed, it’s at least been a good time to catch on some TV and movies. I decided to start with something light, namely Leap Year, a 2010 romantic comedy out of Ireland.

Perfectionist and control freak real estate “stager” Anna (Amy Adams) has been in a relationship with Jeremy (Adam Scott) for four years but he has yet to propose to her. In a wild idea inspired by a family story, she decides to follow Jeremy to his business trip in Dublin, where there is a tradition that women can propose to their men on Leap Day - an opportunity that comes up only once every four years. However, a fierce storm ends up landing her plane outside of Dublin and she must find an alternate way to get to the city. Enter Declan (Matthew Goode), a small village pub owner looking for cash, who offers to drive her from Dingle to Dublin. Adventures and mishaps ensue as their ill-fated journey across Ireland continues despite all obstacles.

Leap Year
has the predictable, formulaic plot of any bad romantic comedy. Yes, I was pretty much aware of that back when I first started seeing previews for this movie, but I was hoping that I would be wrong and there would be some surprises along the way – or at least some really funny moments to carry the movie. But I was disappointed. There are certainly funny moments, but they are mostly of the physical gags variety and nothing particularly spectacular to write home about. Furthermore, there is no real attraction between the leads or justifiable reason(s) they go from hating each other to loving each other - at best its that she realizes he can cook and he learns that she’s so controlling because her father is so glib. However, Amy Adams shines as always (and in general, is underrated for her comic skills, in my opinion) despite running around Ireland on foot in pencil skirts and high heels. Speaking of Ireland, the movie does feature some nice scenery but some of it is clearly green screened in to the background.

However, let’s not even get started on unpacking the idea of ‘women can only propose once every four years on a certain day at a specific idyllic spot.’ Anna is a go-getter who likes things planned exactly to her specifications so there’s no reason why she couldn’t propose on any other day of any other year in any other spot. Let’s also not look too deep here and realize that the ending means Anna gives up all – her home, her job, and her personality – to be with the man she loves. What kind of message are we sending to women with that kind of “love” story? Change everything about yourself and then you can finally be happy? Compare this with another Irish romantic comedy, Happy Ever Afters, where the message seems to be ‘find someone as quirky as yourself and you might have shot at happiness,’ which seems like a healthier attitude to me.

All and all, Leap Year is a fairly entertaining movie but ultimately forgettable, perhaps in part due to its underlying messages that are frankly unfriendly to women.

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