Stars, scenery carry 'Leap Year' - The Explorer: El Sol

Stars, scenery carry 'Leap Year'

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Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:13 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Associated Press

'Leap Year'

Rated PG for sensuality and language. Running time: 100 minutes. Two and half stars out of four.

The romantic-comedy "Leap Year” gets by, barely, on the charms of its stars and the beauty of its Irish scenery.

Amy Adams and Matthew Goode aren't particularly convincing during the loathing portion of their on-screen couple's love-hate relationship, but when the ice thaws, they bring a tender depth of feeling to the oh-so-ordinary material.

The set-up has control-freak Anna (Adams) freaking out herself when her pink-tie-wearing, cardiologist boyfriend of four years, Jeremy (Adam Scott), gives her diamond earrings instead of an expected engagement ring.

When the helmet-haired Jeremy goes to Dublin for a cardiology convention, Anna books a ticket to Ireland, intent on using a folksy, Emerald Isle leap-year custom that gives women carte blanche to pop the question.

Yes, underneath all the order and precision, Anna is an incurable romantic.

Bad weather diverts Anna's plane to Wales. There she hops a boat and lands in Western Ireland, specifically in the town of Dingle, though there is scant evidence of the charming Dingle in the movie. (Catch the Robert Mitchum movie, "Ryan's Daughter,” for the real deal.)

What we do see is one lonely pub, which also functions as the hotel and taxi hub. There Anna meets scruffy charmer Declan (Goode), and she hires him to drive her to Dublin in time for Leap Day.

Now, it's about 220 miles from Dingle to Dublin, but somehow our couple's journey stretches to three days — enough time for them to drop their guard and fall hopelessly in love.

First, though, Anna has to see past Declan's rudeness, and he needs to look beyond her penchant for control. One night in a bed-and-breakfast, where they're forced to act as a married couple in order to get a room, works wonders in settling both these issues.

Director Anand Tucker ("Shopgirl”) gets more mileage from Goode's reaction shots than he does all the wacky scenes featuring road-blocking cows and high-flying, high-heeled shoes.

And Tucker knows what he has in Ireland, too, presenting the rugged beauty of the bogs, lakes and mountains of Connemara in western Ireland in an unadorned way, knowing the area needs no embellishment.

OK, the sunset finale at the Cliffs of Moher is a little over-the-top, but by that point you don't care — because you actually care. That's the surprise of "Leap Year.”

'Youth in Revolt'

Rated R for sexual content, language and drug use. 90 minutes. Two stars out of four.

The ratios in Miguel Arteta's adaptation of C.D. Payne's popular novel are out of whack.

Steve Buscemi and Zach Galifianakis are barely utilized, yet we get two Michael Ceras.

Cera plays Nick Twisp, a precocious 16-year-old Californian who decides his virginity is an issue that must be addressed. On a summer trip to a trailer park in the country with his mother (Jean Smart) and her boyfriend (Galifianakis), Nick falls for the beautiful Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday).

To win her, he invents an alter-ego: a brash, arrogant French playboy dubbed Francois Dillinger. With smart dialogue that calls attention to itself and a manifested devil-on-the-shoulder, "Youth in Revolt” is a bit like a combination of "Juno” and "Fight Club.”

Cera is clever and subtle, but doesn't have the range for multiplicity. With little genuine rebelliousness and a lot of tired geek-wants-to-have-sex story, the overdone quirkiness of "Youth in Revolt” disappoints. With Ray Liotta, Justin Long and Fred Willard, the lone adult who gets anything fun to do.

'Daybreakers'

Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity. 98 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

There are more revisionist vampire stories out there than you can shake a stake at nowadays, and they're getting tiresome.

This one from sibling writer-directors Peter and Michael Spierig plays like a dirge, striking one long, monotonous note of gloom, a dramatic flatline that barely budges even during the movie's uninspired action-and-gore sequences.

Ethan Hawke stars as a reluctant vampire in the world of 2019, where most of humanity has become bloodsuckers and the supply of blood is running out. The race is on to find a substitute — or a cure to vampirism after a band of humans stumbles onto a way to change the undead back to friendly mortals.

The story is humdrum, the dialogue insipid, the visual trappings derivative of countless better futuristic tales. With Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Claudia Karvan.

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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