I would have rather watched Leap Dave Williams 2: Leap Baby. Hell, I would have rather watched The Rural Juror.
But instead I’m celebrating the elusive February 29th by watching Leap Year, which was inexplicably released in 2010, smack in the middle of the four-year cycle that makes its central “holiday” relevant.
The premise of this movie is absurd and offensive, even with the bar lowered to compare it to other wedding movies: Amy Adams plays Anna, who stages fancy apartments to improve their position on the real estate market and dates a cardiologist so important (Adam Scott, in the midst of his douchebag-for-hire period) his work takes him to Ireland for reasons I think I was emailing through.
Underutilized best friend Sweet Dee spies The Cardiologist at a jewelry store looking at diamonds, so Anna expects a proposal is imminent. She even tells her dad, John Lithgow, whom I assume needed a credit to keep his SAG membership active. But then, quelle horreur, The Cardiologist merely presents full carat diamond earrings to his lady love. WHAT A TRAGEDY.
Frustrated that she’s put four years into a relationship and been given only ear jewelry to show for it, Anna does what any reasonable woman would do: she books a last-minute flight to Ireland to exploit a “loophole” in Irish culture that “allows” women to propose to men on one day every four years.
As she explains to her escort across the Emerald Isle, whose name is Cormac or Liam or Declan or something, “You guys have this great tradition that a woman can propose to a man on the 29th of February on a Leap Year.”
Cormac or Liam or Declan or something responds, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” I smile and gear up for a much-needed meta-criticism of the plot of this movie, pointing out that a lady doesn’t need an irregular date and a foreign country to propose marriage to her dude, she just needs to do it.
That’s not what he says. He says, “It’s a day for desperate women to try to trap themselves a man who clearly doesn’t want to get married. If your man wanted to propose he would have done it already. FACT.” At this point I give up all hope on this movie being any less than 100% terrible.
Anna and Cormlideclan have your standard road-trip misadventures as they make their way to Dublin, including being peer pressured into making out by elderly couples at a B&B and crashing a wedding where Anna smacks the bride in the forehead with a rogue shoe à la Clueless, and then spills red wine on her dress while apologizing. Oh, and at some point Anna, the apartment stager with the cardiologist boyfriend “applying” to live in an ultra-posh building, lectures the dude from the Irish countryside about how poverty really feels. As though the movie wanted to prove my eyes could roll even harder.
Somehow these misadventures convert into falling in love, because this is a romantic comedy. I feel terribly bad for Adam Scott’s cardiologist Baxter, because in all of his phone contact with Anna he’s been pleasant and excited to see her soon. He even proposes marriage the moment she arrives in his presence, and she of course accepts. For about a half-swallow of Diet Coke I thought that was going to be the happy ending of the movie, and the story with Anna And Cormlideclan was going to be some kind of what-if ships-passing-in-the-night fantasy for the two characters, which I found surprisingly realistic and satisfactory.
Of course that is not what happens. The Cardiologist reveals he was spurred to propose by the board of the exclusive apartment building they were applying to live in, and Anna is unsatisfied with that motivation. She goes back to Europe and puts it all on the line for the Irish dude she barely knows, asking him to “not make any plans” with her but love her all the same. Which I guess is supposed to represent her character arc: she goes from someone who follows non-existent rules to someone who breaks them. Fortunately, she’s saved from any chance of personal growth by Cormlideclan’s actual marriage proposal, motivated not by his selfish desire to land a sweet living space but by… um, uh… his appreciation of Anna’s pretty face? The constraints of the genre? I’m not really sure what.
Here’s hoping that real movies return in March.