Two Comedies from Universal
Leap Year (May 7/10)
Leap Year follows uptight career woman Anna Brady (Amy Adams) as she conspires to propose to her longtime boyfriend (Adam Scott's Jeremy) on February 29th, with her efforts at catching up with him in Ireland hampered by the laid-back local (Matthew Goode's Declan) who has reluctantly agreed to escort her there. It's an almost comically hackneyed setup - she's tightly-wound and prissy, he's easy-going and sarcastic - that's initially employed to distressingly underwhelming effect, as screenwriters Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont place a consistent emphasis on elements of a decidedly sitcom-like nature. The pervasively broad atmosphere effectively prevents the viewer from working up any real interest in the central character's ongoing exploits, with Adams' expectedly charming work often suffocated by filmmaker Anand Tucker's aggressively cute sensibilities. It's ultimately the presence of a few heartwarming interludes - ie Anna and Declan share a spontaneous kiss in front of several onlookers - that cements the movie's place as a familiar yet watchable piece of work, with the genuinely romantic finale ensuring that Leap Year concludes on an emotionally-affecting note that almost compensates for its myriad of less-than-stirring attributes.
Role Models (May 8/10)
A typically underwhelming post-Apatow comedy, Role Models follows underachievers Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) as they're forced into a Big Brothers-type program after wreaking havoc at a local high school - with the movie subsequently detailing the twosome's individual efforts at bonding with their respective matches (Danny is paired with Christopher Mintz-Plasse's geeky Augie, while Wheeler finds himself assigned to Bobb'e J. Thompson's aggressively foul-mouthed Ronnie). Role Models suffers from a pervasively generic atmosphere that's perpetuated by its myriad of hopelessly familiar attributes, as director David Wain has infused the proceedings with an entirely bland sensibility that inevitably cancels out the movie's few positive elements (including the lazy yet personable work from the various actors). It seems fairly obvious that the film's resemblance to any number of modern comedies stands as its most glaring deficiency, with the emphasis on improvisation and the free-wheeling sense of plotting certainly evoking Judd Apatow's similarly-themed catalogue - yet it's clear almost instantly that Wain simply does not possess Apatow's skill at blending laughs with heart, as the filmmaker's efforts at infusing the narrative with bursts of drama come off as clumsy and eye-rollingly heavy handed. The inclusion of a few genuinely hilarious one-liners and bits - most of which come courtesy of Jane Lynch's scene-stealing turn as Danny and Wheeler's supervisor - ultimately prevents Role Models from morphing into the flat-out disaster one might've anticipated, although, given the level of talent both in front of and behind the camera, it's impossible not to walk away from the movie feeling like a serious opportunity has been missed.