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Leap Year, Perfect for that Mother-Daughter Matinee

According to supposed Irish custom, women may propose to their reluctant fiancés on February 29. The woman in Leap Year is Anna (Amy Adams), a Boston apartment stager, and her intended fiancé, Jeremy (Adam Scott), is a surgeon more in love with his BlackBerry than her. But after four years, he still hasn’t pulled the Tiffany trigger. What’s a girl to do? Jeremy has flown to a medical conference in Dublin, which neatly coincides with leap day, so Anna follows—intending to ambush him on the fated date. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned. Leap Year belongs to the Prada backlash subgenre of women’s pictures—epitomized by The Proposal—in which smart, stylish women must be muddied, abased, ridiculed, and degraded in order to get their man. Only the new man is waggish innkeeper Declan (Matthew Goode), who agrees to drive stranded Anna to Dublin. She’s uptight and hyper-organized; he’s a grinning oaf who chews with his mouth open. See where this is going? Adams and Goode are both appealing, but you can write Leap Year‘s opposites-attract itinerary yourself. Written by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (Made of Honor), and directed by Anand Tucker (Shopgirl), the movie seems a rehash of 1930s conventions—It Happened One Night in Ireland. (Oh, no! There’s only one bed left at the B&B!) Free from sex or naughty language, Leap Year appears to have been designed for that huge mother-daughter matinee market, ahem. Trust me: Take mom to It’s Complicated instead.

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‘Imagine Me & You’

British rom-coms live and die by the charm of their patter. And though this lesbian-themed entry in the Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral category neatly accomplishes the genre’s other requirement, the ability to double as travelogue, its players are availed of precious little wit. The plot, which unfolds in dappled and dewy Primrose Hill, finds angelic Rachel (Piper Perabo) questioning her “perfect” marriage to successful broker Heck (Matthew Goode, the British Mark Ruffalo) after she locks desirous eyes with their hot wedding florist Luce (Lena Headey). To move things along, Heck’s cad pal (Darren Boyd) falls for Luce, occasioning more social contact with Rachel. The redundant meet-cute is extended further by dull jags involving Rachel’s precocious 8-year-old sister, her parents’ strained marriage, and Luce’s mother’s dating issues. Posh bores all (what passes for humor are things like stuffy mum exclaiming, “sweet shit in a bucket!”), the characters simply run their tedious mouths until the two women finally consummate their flirtation with a tasteful smooch in the flower shop stockroom. These being moral times for celluloid gays, there is no consideration of an affair. It’s got to be all or nothing.

Straining to adhere to treacly formula—in which any personal fallout surrounding love’s madness is milked for jokes then tidily resolved —the film creates a bizarro world where the only obstacles to the smooth transition from affluent hetero wifehood to affluent girl-girl bliss are a few stunned parental reactions that instantly melt into full-fledged support. Even mild-mannered Heck just basically says “heck.” But then, what does he care? He’s rich as folk. The goal here is to ensconce us in luxury as we imagine what our two foxes must be imagining doing to each other. But not only is there not enough panting to bunch any panties, this polite romp could use more of that other L-word: laughs. And it doesn’t help that the final song, “Happy Together,” to which the title alludes, only reminds anyone who saw Adaptation of a movie that had lots of ’em.

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8 Simple Rules for Babysitting the President’s Daughter

X-tina’s been stripped of all good-girl pretense, and Britney’s now the queen of the shotgun annulment. Hilary, Ashley, and Mary-Kate are still girls. This leaves Mandy Moore as the Noxzema-cleanest not-yet-woman next to Kelly Clarkson. With Chasing Liberty, she adds to her charm bracelet of conservative movie gems including the Christian apologia A Walk to Remember and How to Deal, with its anti-choice subplot (next: the pregnancy-themed Saved). Now we get a would-be screwball that celebrates personal freedom while winking toward Patriot Act-style parental control.

Dew-kissed Moore is Anna, a likable Babs or Jenna—the daughter of Clinton’s successor. After security ruins one of Anna’s dates, she makes Dad (Mark Harmon) promise that in Prague, where they’ll be for the G8 (Pops will discuss “how best to distribute our technology to developing countries”—awww!), he’ll let her go clubbing. Security ruins that too, cutting short a rocking cameo by the Roots with Cody ChesnuTT. She hits the cobblestones on the scooter of Brit photographer Ben (Matthew Goode), but as we soon learn, though Anna does not, Ben’s on Dad’s payroll, assigned to let her experience “freedom.” Proceed with several countries’ worth of Moore chastely skinny-dipping, bungee-jumping, and bugging Ben for some real secret service (duty prevents him, almost).

Moore’s lip-glossed petulance never catches fire with Goode’s canned drollery. Plus, all romantic rhythm is scuttled by frequent omniscient check-ins with worried Daddy back in WTO-land, and a subplot featuring bumbling secret agents (Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra), who aren’t given anything fun to bumble. Our central twosome meets some unsavory characters, but Anna’s companion has more than usual interest in her safety. His professionalism and devotion deliver her from the bad, bad Berlin Love Parade, back to the safety of her clean, white house. Yes, we eagerly await Pieces of April pout queen Katie Holmes’s upcoming First Daughter—Pieces of Liberty, anyone?