Anna Campbell

August 2021

Leap to Watch Leap Year!

Do you have any guilty pleasure films? Films that strike you the right way, but which generally got a panning from the critics? Films that often even your best friends don’t love the way you do? Films that you could be mean about if you wanted to be all cynical and intellectual, but that somehow bypass all your inner critic and charm you to death anyway? I’ve got more films like this on my list than I can poke a stick at!

Today I’m going to talk about just such a film. I love Leap Year (2010), although it didn’t get great reviews when it came out. Matthew Goode, the star gave it a panning in a couple of interviews, and it only chalks up a measly 6.5 on IMDB. Yeah, it doesn’t really go anywhere you don’t think it will and there are a couple of scenes that have become de rigueur in romantic comedies over the last few years – the vomiting heroine, the public declaration of love and devotion, for example. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of either trope, although to be fair the PDOL in this one is handled with a bit of imagination for once.

I’m a great fan of romantic comedies but a lot of recent romantic comedies haven’t really rung my bell, for various reasons. Partly because many have felt like cynical attempts to appeal to the female market, without really thinking about the ingredients that make a truly great romantic comedy a truly great piece of cinema. It’s been rare pickings when I’ve looked for something to compare with the heyday of Audrey Hepburn or Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

If you revisit the good romantic comedies of the 50s and 60s, you’ll see that they manage to pack a punch while at the same time, waltzing around the cinematic universe lighter than air. There’s always heart to go along with the humor, and I think that’s true about Leap Year.

Leap Year really packs a punch in the charm department, not to mention that the leads are so attractive and have wonderful chemistry. The scenery is beautiful. The humor is sharp and clever and winks at some of the cliches of the genre, while still having plenty of romance and laughs and touching moments.

The set-up for Leap Year is contrived but rather sweet. Apartment stylist Anna Brady (Amy Adams) wants to marry her long-term boyfriend Jeremy who is a surgeon and on paper, the man of her dreams (this is a romantic comedy, so you can guess where this is going, can’t you?). When Jeremy goes to Dublin for a conference, Anna decides to follow him and propose on the 29th February because that’s the date every four years when the girls can do the asking in Ireland.

After a storm makes conventional travel impossible, Anna steps off a fishing boat at an isolated village called Dingle where she runs afoul of the churlish but extremely handsome innkeeper Declan O’Callaghan, who owns the only taxi in town, a rundown rust bucket. It’s hate at first sight. Declan thinks Anna is a stupid innocent abroad and she thinks he’s a mysogynistic pig.

Declan who is suffering major financial troubles and getting over a nasty breakup with his fiancee agrees to drive Anna to Dublin for €500. A hilarious road trip follows where the two gradually come to understand each other and find common ground. I won’t go into the plot because I hope you’ll watch the movie but there are romantic twists and turns aplenty and some absolutely delicious sexual tensions as we follow these unlikely enemies into lovers come together. And there’s an absolutely gorgeous ending that did my old romantic heart proud!

If you want something light for a Sunday afternoon, this is the perfect fare. It’s one of those movies I turn to when the world seems full of sharp corners – any sharp corners in Leap Year are very much smoothed away by the time we get to the blissful finale! Give it a go!