Who’s In It: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott, Kaitlin Olson, John Lithgow
The Basics: An uptight American woman (Amy Adams) is desperate to put a ring on it. She follows her boyfriend (Adam Scott) to Ireland in order to propose on Leap Day, when tradition decrees that he’ll have to say yes, or else! Rotten weather waylays her in rural Ireland (how horrible, what with all that gorgeous scenery) where she enlists a sour-but-super-cute local (Matthew Goode) to get her to Dublin. Oh, but they squabble so! How they positively hate one another! So much so… that they start to kind of fall in love, which makes us all tingly because he calls her on her b.s. and she sees the wounded teddy bear inside of him. Too bad that pesky boyfriend is still in the picture to ruin their newfound romance with his mere existence. What a jerk. I sure hope these two crazy kids can find a way to work things out.
What’s The Deal: Leap Year is a textbook romantic comedy, which means that you already know how things turn out even if you’ve only watched the trailer. Or even if you’ve only seen the movie poster. And yes, it’s somewhat condescending to sell a rom-com to women based on the revolutionary idea (!) that on one day out of the year, a girl can ask a boy to marry her instead of the other way around. (Who’s checking their calendars to book a trip for the next February 29? The next Leap Day will be in the year 2012 – an inauspicious time to travel if you follow the Gospel of Roland Emmerich.) But despite its patronizing theme, and however much you’re tired of Amy Adams’s wide-eyed, neurotic shtick, Leap Year has a winning charm that sneaks up on you and makes you fall in love with Matthew Goode – I mean, with it.
A Throwback To The Golden Age Of Hollywood Rom-Coms: Take away the BlackBerrys and the trappings of modern life, and Leap Year could very well be a product of classic 1940s Hollywood. The narrative structure is conventional to the point of predictability, but its simple familiarity is what makes Leap Year work. Amy Adams isn’t quite Claudette Colbert, and Leap Year is certainly no It Happened One Night, but as her roguish love interest, Matthew Goode has that twinkle of mischief in his eyes and sense of amusement that makes for the best leading men in screwball romances. When Anna (Adams) and Declan (Goode) share a room for the night while keeping their platonic distance, palpable longing hangs in the air, evoking Colbert and Clark Gable’s Walls of Jericho. When he leaves her in the arms of her betrothed Mr. Wrong, you can’t wait for fate to find a way to get them back together again.
Why Is Amy Adams Such A Materialistic Control Freak? It’s tough to get an audience to root for a female lead who’s so, well, unlikable. Anna is a stereotypical American yuppie obsessed with landing the perfect apartment, the perfect fiancé, and the perfect, meticulously planned out life. She lugs her prized Louis Vuitton luggage around rainy, muddy Ireland (and worse, has to get a man to carry it for her) in $600 heels. That’s how you know this is a movie. Add to that Anna’s pretentious sense of entitlement, her disdain for local life (portrayed one four-leaf clover shy of a Lucky Charms commercial), and her pride, and Amy Adams is lucky that Matthew Goode is in the movie to give the audience some reason to root for a romantic conclusion.
Which Brings Me To, Why Matthew Goode Will Be America’s Next Romantic Crush: As Declan, Goode lends a charismatic touch to a conventional romantic type: a tall, dark, and handsome looker who’s secretly more sensitive than he shows. The British actor’s been flying under the radar for years, popping up most notably in last year’s ginormous comic book movie, Watchmen. (He played Ozymandias, the blond superhero with the big cat fetish.) In the current awards season contender A Single Man, Goode plays Colin Firth’s pretty boy lover with sophistication and grace that has nabbed him plenty of admirers in a wholly different demographic.
Who's Completely Wasted: John Lithgow shows up for two seconds as Anna's dad to show us why she's so stuck-up and anal retentive. (He was financially irresponsible during her childhood.) Kaitlin Olson, on the other hand, gets a generous four seconds of screen time as Anna's BFF, displaying the same precise comic wit she works on the awesome It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.