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MOVIE REVIEW

Leap Year

Amy Adams gets lost in insipid ‘Leap Year’

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By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / January 8, 2010

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It’s unclear what Amy Adams did to deserve “Leap Year,’’ but all that’s missing from the movie is a set of jailhouse bars over her scenes. She plays Anna, one of those uptight, over-prepared yuppies whose goals amount to engagement rings and real estate. It’s not that she looks miserable - her eyes continue to pop with bliss and her voice retains its soothing lilt. But the snobbery, blind determination, and materialism she deploys are aggravating since they have nothing to do with the Amy Adams we’ve come to know. (This is the sort of movie where her Louis Vuitton rollerbag is called by its first name.)

Anna goes to Ireland to propose to her fiance (Adam Scott), a Boston cardiologist in Dublin on business. Apparently, it’s customary in Anna’s family for a woman to ask a man to marry her on Leap Day. (Well, her grandmother did it.) That single, inane conceit is surely what got this movie made - like owning 27 bridesmaids dresses or having a bride war. Leap Day is a gimmick to keep Anna, who’s stranded in an Irish hamlet because of a storm, motivated to get to Dublin before Feb. 29 turns into March 1. Her sparring partner for the journey is Declan (Matthew Goode), the owner of a pub and inn. His assignment is to drive her in his beat-up Renault.

The longtime team of Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan wrote this movie, which Anand Tucker directed, and there’s neither a trace of believability nor a sense of legitimate fun in it. (Their collective output includes “Josie and the Pussycats,’’ “Shopgirl,’’ and “Surviving Christmas.’’)

Declan needs the money Anna’s paying him to keep his pub afloat. But the purely transactional nature of their relationship feels put on - they appear to be the only cute people in the entire country. They pretend to hate being around each other, anyway. One night while faking being married to keep a room at a conservative inn, they roll over in bed, establish eye contact, and then make a chagrined retreat to their respective sides of the bed. Just once, I’d like to see that scene end with a bed knocking a wall. “Leap Year’’ is nauseatingly chaste even by the sex-averse standards of recent romantic comedy.

We’ve had Adams as a star for only about two years, but her persona seems firm: She’s exceedingly tolerant. And while a movie can bend that tolerance in a hundred different directions, very little can break it. In “Leap Year’’ Adams is required to be brittle and obnoxiously impatient. When she’s shown a room in Declan’s shabby little inn, she wrinkles her face and says, “Just like the Four Seasons.’’

But like Sarah Jessica Parker in “Did You Hear About the Morgans?,’’ Adams seems embarrassed by the confidence needed for a part like this. In the future these sorts of entitled yuppies will be played by Anna Kendrick, of “Up in the Air,’’ a woman who can be witheringly self-assured. She’s the 21st century’s answer to Rosalind Russell. When Kendrick wields a BlackBerry, she means it.

Until then, there’s Adams, who doesn’t own this character’s sense of superiority. She apologizes for it. Of course, given the material, it’s hard to blame her.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

LEAP YEAR

Directed by: Anand Tucker

Written by: Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan

Starring: Amy Adams, Adam Scott, Matthew Goode

At: Boston Common, Fenway, and suburbs

Running time: 97 minutes

PG (sensuality and language)

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