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Sometimes, a release date is all you need to know about a movie.

When Hollywood honchos know that they’ve got a turkey on their hands, they’ll often send it to die in theatres in early January. That way, the popular holiday offerings that are still doing well at the box office will cover the movie’s failure. With the strong holdovers, the studio’s balance sheet still looks good.

It’s likely that the studio behind “Leap Year” had a limited amount of faith in this modest romantic comedy.

Amy Adams (“Julie & Julia”) stars as Anna, a high-maintenance Manhattan yuppie who can’t seem to get her boyfriend, a successful doctor named Jeremy (Adam Scott from “Step Brothers”), to pop the question.

Furthermore, he’s off to Ireland for an extended business trip.

Distressed, she asks her boozy father (John Lithgow in an all-too-brief appearance) for advice. He reminds her of an old family legend. Every Leap Year on February 29th, a woman in Ireland can propose marriage to her beau.

Inspired and emboldened, Anna secretly plans a trip to the Emerald Isle. She plans to meet up with meet up with Jeremy in Dublin and surprise him with a Sadie Hawkins-style marriage proposal.

In timeworn Hollywood style, things don’t go smoothly for Anna. Through a series of complications, she winds up in a rural coastal area far from the Irish capitol.

There, she hires a cabbie named Declan (Matthew Goode from “Watchmen”) to drive her across the Irish countryside in an attempt to get to Dublin in time.

In true rom-com fashion, Anna and Declan initially hold one another in disdain. Although they often clash, they slowly warm up to one another during their Gaelic journey.

Will Anna make it to Dublin in time? Will she decide that Declan is the real man of her dreams? Will Declan get over his aversion to this spoiled, pushy American woman?

If you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy, you’ll know the answers to these probing questions.

As written, Anna is a pretty obnoxious character. Luckily, Adams brings a certain vulnerability to the role that makes her far more likable than she would be otherwise.

Goode is also quite appealing, but purists may quibble about the authenticity of his Irish accent. (In fairness, had he used a credible rural Irish brogue, American audiences would need subtitles to understand him.)

But “Leap Year” is a very familiar and uninspired romance that seems like it was phoned in from Hibernia. (PG-13) Rating: **

* Avoid at all costs
** Only if you're bored
*** Good movie
**** Well worth your time
***** Be sure to see it

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Added: January 08, 2010. 12:58 PM CDT
You guys need a woman reviewer!
I've been watching your reviews on TV for a year now and you almost always give romantic movies, or romantic comedies a low rating, and yet give all the action movies high ratings, even if there's no plot (like 2012). Guess what, there is a whole other sex in this country and we love romantic comedies. We love the predictable plot lines and happy endings. Sure, give the ones that have more depth an even higher rating, but maybe start thinking about how women would perceive these movies since they are the target audience.
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