Leap Year

January 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott
Directed by: Anand Tucker (“Shopgirl”)
Written by: Deborah Kaplan (“Made of Honor”) and Harry Elfont (“Made of Honor”)

It might have been forgivable for a movie called “Leap Year” to be released during a non-Leap Year, but when screenwriters Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont put their heads together things usually get far too ugly and aggravating to let anything slip by.

Whether we’re talking about a musical comedy like “Josie and the Pussycats,” a family comedy like “Surviving Christmas,” or a romantic comedy like “Made of Honor,” there’s little Kaplan and Elfont have done in the last decade to prove they actually know how to write something with even a hint of humor. Instead, the writing duo falls back into the safety of their grab bag of clichés and scoops out a few to get them through the day.

While “Leap Year” isn’t as dreadful as the aforementioned films, it doesn’t mean Kaplan and Elfont are getting any better. They manage to take someone as adorable and talented as two-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (“Doubt”) and wedge her into some middlebrow comedy that really is not befitting for her.

In the film she plays Anna, an upbeat apartment stager who decides that if her cardiologist boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) is not going to propose to her after four years, she’s going to take it upon herself to pop the question. Anna has just learned that it’s supposedly a romantic Irish tradition for the woman to propose to the man on Leap Day, Feb. 29. As luck would have it, Jeremy is in Ireland on business. How very serendipitous!

After one diverted plane ride to Wales, Anna is stranded in the English countryside where her only chance to make it to Dublin to see her boyfriend is to hitch a ride with Declan (Matthew Goode), a cheeky local pub owner who could use the fare. Oh, he’s also charming and attractive and has the ability to sweep American women off their feet, go figure.

Of course, the drive to Ireland isn’t that simple. Kaplan and Elfont give us a few sitcom-worthy obstacles the predictable couple has to overcome if they want to get to their final destination on time. From flooded cars to missed trains to – gasp – renting a room with only one bed, romantic comedies can’t get any more formulaic and stereotypical than this.

The conventional story includes the idea that tossing a city girl into the great outdoors and waiting for something hilarious to occur is just about the greatest thing anyone has ever come up with since, well, last year when Renée Zellweger traveled to Minnesota in “New in Town;” Sandra Bullock trekked through the snows of Alaska in “The Proposal;” and Sarah Jessica Parker ran through the wilderness of Wyoming in “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” Why screenwriters find these terrible fish-out-of-water tales so appealing is beyond comprehension.

While Anna and Declan frolic through the pretty scenery, director Anand Tucker (“Shopgirl”) doesn’t do much to build on the thin material. How do they become so infatuated with each other in the span of two days when half of their time together is spent fighting? Why is Jeremy made out to be a horrible boyfriend when he’s really done nothing to justify Anna forgetting the last four year of their relationship and reinventing her life on a whim?

It all makes little sense in “Leap Year,” an unrealistic and over-calculated mishap that won’t have legs past January.

Made of Honor

May 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Sydney Pollack
Directed by: Paul Weiland (“City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold”)
Written by: Adam Sztykiel (debut), Deborah Kaplan (“Josie and the Pussycats”), Harry Elfont (“Surviving Christmas”)

If anyone knows how to milk their status as a romantic lead it’s actor Patrick Dempsey. From his “McDreamy” reputation on TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” to his all-around good-guy persona in films like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Enchanted,” Dempsey is a far cry away from the nerdy lead he took in 1987’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

That film, at least, could be considered a sweet romantic comedy. In his new rom com, “Made of Honor,” the script makes about as much sense as the homonym in its title, which isn’t much.

Riddled with countless clichés (“You’re the perfect man, but not the perfect man for me.” Really? Is that all it takes to write a screenplay?) and some pointless and annoying dialogue, “Made of Honor” tells the story of Tom (Dempsey), a billionaire inventor who realizes he is in love with his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) just before she introduces him to her new fiancée.

When Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor for her wedding, Tom jumps at the chance, not because he is interested in picking out floral arrangements with her, but because he thinks he has a better chance of sabotaging the engagement by being closer to the future bride.

A hapless, hopeless romantic comedy, there is no real sense of friendship between Tom and Hannah right from the start. The trio of writers who offer this dud want us to believe that such a great, life-long friendship develops because they are able to do things like pick off each other’s food and guess what the other will order from the bakery. The premise and characterizations are so careless and irritating it’s a wonder how the director of Bill Cosby’s “Leonard 6” (considered by many as one of the worst movies ever made) got financing for something so dim-witted and poorly written.

If you want a great romantic comedy, flip the sexes around and revisit “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Even Cameron Diaz’s sometimes earsplitting role in that isn’t as grating as Dempsey’s is in this.