Wednesday, January 20, 2010

REVIEW: Leap Year

After I saw Leap Year with Amy Adams (yes, the structure of the sentence IS deliberate), I told a friend of mine I liked the movie and she said: "OK - would you have liked it if any other actress was in the lead?"

I thought about it for a second and said, half-kiddingly, "Probably not. Well, maybe if Zooey Deschanel or Rachel McAdams were in the lead."

She had a point in asking, though. Any person who reads my reviews with their eyes half-closed knows that I have something of a - thing for the divine Ms. Adams. My ebullience over her is about as well known as my Beatle and moviemania.

Does that make me biased? Does that mean that when Amy comes along, on go the rose-colored glasses? Yes, it does. And you know what? That's OK. As a teacher of mine told me a long time ago, it's OK for a critic to have these biases as long as he admits them. And when it comes to Amy I've been admitting it for years.

This is not to say I automatically like every movie she makes. One need only recall my disdain of last year's Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. I loved Amy's portrayal of Amelia Earhart and thought she was far and away the best thing about the movie. On the whole, however, I thought that film was typical sequelitis - long on visual whiz-bang but short on the kind of imagination it so claimed to cherish.

But Amy was a supporting player in that movie. In Leap Year, she is front and center, the undisputed lead of the film - and that goes a long way to overcoming the cliches that run rampant in this story about a girl who wants to propose to her fiance on Leap Day but ends up falling for the caustic sorta roughneck who gives her a lift to Dublin.

I knew full well how the story was going to play out. Heck, the trailer practically telegraphed the entire plot. And in the first half of the film, I sank in my seat because it just wasn't working. The sight of Amy and/or Matthew Goode running after their little car or shooing cows off the road just wasn't funny. This was the sort of thing Capra might have directed if he were on Quaaludes.

And yet, when the romance between Amy and Goode started to take hold, I bought it. They had good chemistry together, and I wanted to see them end up with each other, even when I knew they would no matter how many contrivances the script threw at them to keep them apart. It passed the basic romantic comedy test - even though I freely admit that with Amy, I grade on a curve.


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