Amy Adams came on the scene with a terrific performance in the film "Junebug," which earned her an Oscar nomination and critical acclaim but it took her leading role in the romantic fairytale comedy "Enchanted" to really make her a star. Since then it seems that the actress can be found almost everywhere in a large array of different roles in different films such as the family comedy "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" in which she played flying legend Amelia Earhart, the drama "Doubt" which earned the actress a second Oscar nomination and most recently "Julie & Julia" opposite acting legend Meryl Streep. Now, the actress is back in the genre that made her famous, romantic comedies, with "Leap Year," a film that could cement her place with audiences as the new Julia Roberts. Adams leads every scene she is in with grace and style, orchestrating her emotions and the comedy like a fine symphony. Her range of emotion adds to the comedy and you completely believe her eccentric and flustered character. Further more the actress makes you sympathize with her character. No matter how outrageous she is behaving you are rooting for her to succeed and find the love and life she is longing for. Adams single handedly makes this film work and that is the mark of a true movie star.
In the film, Adams plays Anna a successful woman living in Boston who works as a rental dresser, she makes apartments and homes look nice for prospective renters. Anna lives the seemingly perfect life, she is successful, has managed to get away from her meager beginnings, has a successful doctor boyfriend and are trying to get approval to buy her dream home, an exclusive condominium in downtown Boston. With everything going so well for Anna she gets extra excited when a girlfriend spots her boyfriend leaving a jewelry store with a small package. Positive that he is going to pop-the-question at dinner before he leaves for a business conference in Ireland the next day, Anna is devastated when there is no ring or proposal only earrings. Anna's disappointment of a Dad, played as funny as ever by John Lithgow, reminds her of an old Irish tradition that her relatives once followed, where if a woman asks a man to marry her on Leap Day, February 29th, the man has to say yes. Fueled with this knowledge, Anna heads to Ireland to find her boyfriend Jeremy and propose to him herself.
However her travel to Dublin, Ireland is not so easy as her plane experiences trouble mid-flight and must divert to Cardiff. Not letting the unexpected detour slow her down Anna is able to hire a boat to take her to Cork, but gets only as far as the Dingle peninsula, where she must stay at an Inn for the night. There she meets a surly Irish bar & innkeeper named Declan, played perfectly by Matthew Goode. Determined to make it to Ireland by the 29th, Anna makes a deal with him to take her cross-country to Dublin. On the way the couple experience car-trouble and are forced to walk, take a train and anything else they can do to get Anna to her destination. The two clearly do not get along, at first, and Anna becomes as annoyed with his country and his Irish ways as he does with her thankless attitude and continued complaining. One night, in order to get a room in a bed & breakfast they pose as a "real couple" and must convince several long time couples that they are the real deal. That of course includes sharing the same bed. After attending a local wedding the two begin to form a connection and start to warm up to each other. Now only hours from Dublin and her future-boyfriend, Anna is beginning to not want the trip to end or for her traveling companion to go away. Once in Dublin, as Anna and Declan are just about to confess their true feelings for each other, Jeremy walks in and purposes to Anna himself. Now, Anna must decide between the life that she thought she wanted so badly with Jeremy, and the feelings that she now has for Declan. What follows might surprise you as Anna finds out the true reasons behind Jeremy's change of heart and makes a shocking decision of her own.
Practically, not since Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" has one actress' performance set the mood and tone so perfectly for a film. In the montage scene during the opening credits we get a quick taste of who her character is. It is so strong and so sure that by the time the film starts you have no questions about who this character is and what she wants. You are immediately sucked into the story and are off and running right away. Adams is surrounded by a strong cast of actors including the very talented Adam Scott from TV's "Party Down" as her would-be fiancé and the equally talented Matthew Goode from "Watchmen" as her Irish traveling companion. Both actors do an excellent job of playing their roles with humor and strength while never forgetting whom the real star of the film is and never over-shadowing her at all. Also strong in the film, all be it for only one scene, was acting-great John Lithgow, recently scene as a killer on TV's "Dexter." Lithgow plays Adams' slightly drunk and unimpressive father and in his one scene is able to get the plot rolling without it seeming forced or staged. All of the minor players in the film, specifically the local Irish people are fantastic especially the older couple who own the bed & breakfast and keep an eye out for some funny performances from the patron's at Declan's bar.
The script is well written, although it's not exactly a breakthrough in romantic comedies and we've certainly seen this type of film before, the writers do a marvelous job of telling a standard story in a new and original way with a unique twist. Director Anand Tucker does a great job of melting all the pieces of the story together and had the luxury of shooting the beautiful Irish landscape, which looks terrific in the film. In fact, cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel deserves special credit for making the glorious green landscape of Ireland come alive in such a bright and vibrant way. Ireland itself is a major character in the film. But the true star of the movie is Amy Adams who earns all the credit for being a steady anchor throughout the film that the audience can relate to. I think that the actress herself is, or at least seems to be in her public persona, a sweet and lovely young lady and I think its that perception that will gravitate fans to see the movie ... the fact that Amy Adams herself is so likable helps the film work a great deal. Is this movie for everyone? No, of course not. I'm sure fourteen year-old boys lining up for their third and fourth time to see "Avatar" won't be interested in this movie but that really doesn't matter. They're not exactly the target audience anyways. But the film really is the perfect "date movie" as women will relate to Adam's character and men will relate to Goode. I think that if audiences give Leap Year a chance this Valentine's season they will be pleasantly surprised by how likable the film really is and that has mostly to do with Ms. Adams performance. If the jury had been out on who would be the heir-apparent to Julia Roberts ... I think they just came in and we finally have a verdict!