We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 6 Sep 6:25PM
Amy Adams and Matthew Goode make a familiar journey in a formulaic romantic comedy
Uptight, upwardly-mobile Anna almost has the perfect life in Boston, but her boyfriend just won't pop the question. In desperation she pays a surprise visit to Dublin, where he’s on business and where, her Irish father suggests, it’s acceptable for a woman to propose on February 29. Her flight's diverted and she finds herself in 6" heels in a backward region of Ireland, dependent upon the mercy of hostile taxi driver Declan to reach her destination. Guess what happens on their journey?
It'd be interesting to know what the Irish Tourist Board makes of Leap Year's Ireland. The cinematography is glossy, the scenery spectacular. Waves crash onto sunlit cliffs and ruined castles, with legends attached, perch on hilltops. Simple local folk effortlessly puncture metropolitan pretensions in each of their few words. And who knew getting from A to B was akin to remote parts of Asia? It certainly is a long way to Tipperary - if it's true trains run once or twice a week and cattle, not cars, congest the roads. Dinner's a toss-up between tripe or slaughtering your own chicken, phone-chargers put out the entire village power supply, and strangers force you to attend their weddings. You almost wonder if a 1950s time travel plotline was cut at the last minute.
Adams and Goode look nice, despite her curious resemblance to Princess Beatrice in the film, and both play obnoxious, then sweet, with assurance. But the repartee never sparkles, and it's unclear why their relationship develops, even if you buy that old Taming of the Shrew chestnut that women like being taken down a peg or five hundred. In the mystifying tradition of recent romantic comedy, laughs are few and predictable - essentially, an accident befalls Adams' character whenever she takes herself a little too seriously. The biggest mystery is why Anand Tucker, director of Hilary and Jackie and TV's brilliant Red Riding, would choose to make this movie. If you really love the genre or are content looking at pretty people in a bucolic setting, this film might work for you: it’s probably best avoided if you're Irish or remotely feminist.
In a nutshell: Everyone tries hard, but Leap Year shows talent can't redeem a truly uninspired script. For committed rom-com fans only.
By Quentin Clarke
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