With her singsong disposition and chipmunk cadence, the always likable Amy Adams glimmers like a golden-age matinee starlet. It's too bad her scripts seem stuck in the 1940s as well. This fish-out-of-water yarn finds Adam's trademark cheerfulness tested by inclement weather and the twinkly folk of Ireland, an enchanted place which turns out to be an isle of right proper arseholes. She's there in pursuit of her arrogant boyfriend, chasing him to a Dublin cardiologist convention, where she intends to finally force him into marriage by way of an old Irish folk tradition that says ladies are allowed to propose on leap day.
But darn if an inconvenient storm has forced her ashore in quaint Dingle, which is on the other side of the country, and by the looks of it, 50 years in the past. Since there's no train or bus service in town, she needs a lift, and by sure and begorrah a handsome bloke steps in for the gig. Roguish chef Declan (Matthew Goode) needs cash to keep his pub open, so he volunteers to drive her, even though she annoys the hell out of him. He's a rough and tumble individualist, unconcerned with appearances or conventions, she's a high-strung fussbudget obsessed with status and timetables.
She's also one of these movie careerist gals, independent, urbane and haughty, yet so desperate for a man she'll debase herself for a ring. By bad screenwriting school decree, she must be punished for these sins, with a lengthy procession of embarrassments, automotive mishaps, social blunders, and face-first falls into mud puddles.
It comes down to chemistry, and the stars are likable, though they can do better. The gifted Adams is in danger of cruising the Meg Ryan highway to career oblivion, while Englishman Goode is about as authentically Irish as a bowl of Lucky Charms, but makes a decent romantic foil.
Every beat is familiar, every gag telegraphed (What? No cell service in Ireland?) and the scenarios as old as the backdrop's crumbling stone walls.
But the settings are lush, from rolling green meadows to majestic cliff sides. This is the same quaint, fairytale Ireland of romantic comedies, from John Wayne's Quiet Man to The Matchmaker with Janeane Garofalo, aimed dead center at the heartland. When Hollywood isn't busy spreading paranoid xenophobia about the rest of the world (see Taken), it's intent on romanticizing it out of proportion. I suppose PTA ladies need something to watch too.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.