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Amy Adams Lovers Will Get Their Fill of Perkiness with ‘Leap Year’

Who would have thought a perfectly adorable actress like Amy Adams would divide people so? Is it Adams’ button-bright perkiness, which irked a vocal crew when it came to Julie & Julia? Is it the puppy-dog-desperate desire to please that she often injects into everygirl roles like Sunshine Cleaning? Adams exudes the old-school, bright-eyed beauty of a Hollywood studio-system ingenue -- in full display in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day --  yet much like Renee Zellwegger, the Leap Year star tends to divide an audience into love-her and hate-her camps.

Lovers will get their fill of the actress, looking like a fiery Irish rose, in this almost absurdly contrived rom-com. Director Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) lavishes so many beauty shots on the star -- whether she’s turning on the charm for a pair of skeptical airline workers or plucking carrots from the dirt that she threatens to eclipse the glorious Irish Tourist Industry-friendly, travelogue-style shots of the Gaelic countryside. Mix in the considerable scruffy appeal of Matthew Goode (last seen as the dear departed lover of Colin Firth in A Single Man), here resembling a long-lost member of Flight of the Conchords. There’s chemistry between the unlikely pairing of Goode and Adams -- so why isn’t this workably successful chick flick?



The ludicrous fundamental conceit of Leap Year gets in the way -- so Amy haters, stay far, far away. Adams is Anna, a real estate stager hoping to stage the ultimate romantic proposal in Ireland where, traditionally, on leap year a lass can propose to the lad of her choosing. She decides to hop a plane for Dublin where her elusive, somewhat too-slick surgeon boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) is attending a conference, just in time for the blessed day.

Unfortunately the weather and all forms of transportation conspire against Anna -- whether it be plane, train, boat or rickety auto -- and stranded in a tiny town, she pays pub owner Declan (Goode) to drive her from around Dingle to Dublin. Declan himself appears to have nothing but time on his hands (and a major debt to pay off) as well as plenty of contempt for the seemingly materialistic American girl with precarious stilettos and a Louis Vuitton case that he mocking calls “Louie.” On the road they go, bickering, stepping in cow poo and getting to know each other along the way in an attempt to fulfill Anna’s aim of getting to Dublin in time for leap day and her proposal.

All this is romantic, yes. But liberated ladies and feminists in today’s post-Sex and the City day and age, will wonder, why bother waiting for leap year to take charge? Why even bother getting married for that matter? It’s tough to leap over that essential question -- this or any year. And though Tucker makes a case for hopping the pond for the Emerald Isle, with magnificent, romance-swathed images of green hills, rocky cliffs, and picturesque country roads studded with somewhat-too-cute villagers (Colman Corish, Anna Rackard, and Brendan Rankin’s art direction is head-turning) and the banter between Adams and Goode fulfills a bit of that odd couple magnetism of It Happened One Night, the script never quite compensates for Leap Year’s weak premise. Writers Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont might have done well to make out with the Blarney Stone in order to plump up the less-than-stellar portions of the script with more wit.