Editor’s Note: Due to the way he was affected by his screening of Leap Year, Cole Abaius has decided to forego the standard review format. Instead, he will review the film in the form of an open letter to the filmmakers. That may contain some spoilers.
To Whom It May Concern:
I’d first like to start out by praising your film Leap Year for what it does correctly. In the proud tradition of politeness that my mother raised me on, I can say whole-heartedly that there are several not-at-all-terrible things in your movie. The first that comes to mind is a tension-filled scene between the main characters as they sleep in the same bed for the first time. They want to, the audience wants them to, and you use music to build up whether or not they dive into each other or turn away coldly to respective sides of the bed pretty well.
Of course, I’ve been told that I only liked the scene because the rest of the movie was absolutely, mind-crushingly awful.
Plus, I would have liked the scene more if the scenes leading up to it had actually painted a great story about two people falling slowly, slowly, slowly in love.
Let me get this straight: A woman (Amy Adams) feels scorned because her heart surgeon boyfriend (Adam Scott) gives her really expensive earrings as a gift, so she decides to fly off to Ireland to surprise him and propose to him on a special day (Leap Day) that’s been traditionally allotted for female-to-male wedding proposals. This passionate drive so envelopes her that she ends up falling in love with the roguish, Irish bar owner (Matthew Goode) that drives her across the country.
There’s no logical starting point since everything is equally as boring and lifeless, so I might as well start with the premise. The grounding of the entire event.
First of all, the concept makes no sense considering how many days have passed since the sexual revolution. There’s already a day set aside that women can propose to men. It’s everyday. Granted, if you had a time machine and could head back to 1954 to get Danny Kaye and Marilyn Monroe to star it might have made sense, but trusting in a modern audience to think, “A woman proposing to a man?! That’s wacky and insane!” right off the bat is a little presumptuous.
Thankfully, even you seem to forget the premise of the film half way through it. I get it. You needed a reason for her to go to Ireland (or somewhere else exotic), but does anyone ever really need a reason to go to Ireland? They make Jameson there. Make her an alcoholic, give her a tour of the plant, and make her handsome boyfriend propose.
Which brings me to another point – if you’re going to make a romantic comedy, you can’t make the man she’s already with more charismatic than the man she ends up falling in love with. Adam Scott‘s character Jeremy is successful, handsome, shares her values (they are both preoccupied with status and money), ends up proposing to her just like she wanted, and is genuinely funny. You can’t just make him an asshole at the end of the movie to serve your purposes. But you tried.
Also, you might want to make sure that the two leads have some chemistry. Falling in love should not have been nearly as grueling as you made it. On that same note, if something is going to be grueling, you shouldn’t set it on a road trip through a foreign land, because it felt like I’d been on a 3-day long, excruciating journey instead of the blissful hour and a half your movie intended to take up in my day.
Yes, your movie is an excruciating, pointless journey that lasts forever.
Adams is too good an actor, too serious an actor to be placed in the role of a woman who is questioning her relationship. After all, that’s what all romantic comedies are about – they are a penetrating question about our values and who shares them – but most of the time its done with a bubbly carefree nature because that’s what love evokes. Making her so uptight was not only lazy, but it made her absolutely depressing most of the time. Who would have fallen in love with that?
If you needed a redhead (because it’s a movie about Ireland!), you couldn’t have called up Isla Fischer? And while you were at it, you couldn’t have called up a personality for Matthew Goode‘s character?
In regards to the setting, I do have to thank you. I kept forgetting after ten minutes or so where the characters were, so your constant blaring of faux-Irish punk and folk behind Amy Adams’s character reminding me she only had X more days to get to Dublin really jarred my failing short term memory.
It takes place in crime-riddled Boston, right?
(But thank you sincerely for not using “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” by Dropkick Murphys. I could tell you desperately wanted to, but you restrained yourself, and I thank you for that).
I want to place blame mostly on you, director Anand Tucker, especially after seeing Shopgirl (another movie that stamps its feet and swears it’s serious). It seems as if you’ve taken the idea of a romantic comedy, taken all the spark from it, and tried to make every little bump in the road a massacre.
You drag out every moment even though they all lead to cliche, predictable conclusions. The girl and the guy she hates but has a certain charm to him have to pretend to be a couple?! They have to kiss in front of people to prove it?! New comic ground has been broken! Luckily, you were nice enough to spend a gigantic amount of time on set up so that when the obvious finally happened, we really felt its impact.
Judging from the end result, this may have been a mistake on your part.
It seems like half the time you were trying to shove how important love is down the throats of your audience (without the proper dialog to even get started) while the other half you were trying to roll Amy Adams down a hill or make her fall comically in the rain. Trying to have your mud pie and eat it, too.
Granted, the 60-year old, crazed woman behind me was eating that mud pie right up. She’d laugh and shout out things like, “Now there goes the armoir!” during particularly uproarious slapstick moments. So kudos.
Suddenly, I’m feeling terrible about lambasting your film because I’ve just realized what you must have been aiming for. A massive amount of exposition and repetition to aid failing memories, leads that were as tepid as cold oatmeal, a moronic premise that belongs in WWII…you were trying to make a movie for 60-year olds. Of course!
Well, nevermind about the rest then. You succeeded in leaps and bounds. 10/10.
For the rest of us, though, you should have just called us idiots and bludgeoned us to death with the Blarney Stone. It would have saved some people their ten bucks.