oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

Why I wish I still loved Amy Adams.

So, it’s February rom-com preview season, and along with Valentine’s Day (subtle title–I guess they felt no other ploy was necessary) is an Amy Adams-Matthew Goode vehicle, Leap Year.  If you haven’t seen the previews, the whole plot (as indicated by the trailer) goes something like this: American gal decides that the “old Irish tradition” of allowing women to propose to their fiances on February 29 (really??) is a good reason to travel to Ireland, grab her conventionally good-looking polo shirt of a guy and do just that. During a harrowing flight, she resolves not to die without getting engaged, right before emergency-landing on the wrong side of the quaint little isle she’s chosen as the backdrop for her bridal fantasy. A local, accented, rugged (read: has stubble) Irishman is enlisted to drive to her to the right side of the island in time for her leap-day proposal. Road-trip hijinks and romance ensue. And guess who she ends up falling for? Seriously, GUESS.

There will be charming locals, troublesome livestock, electrical appliance failure, and…mud! Shrieking! Spirited pouting! YELP! I think I’m falling in love, but I have to tumble down a hill first! EEE!

I suppose it’s a bit passé to complain about a romantic comedy plot. After all, rom-coms are usually pretty cookie cutter–and at least the heroine doesn’t start out as a servant or assistant who gets rescued by a handsome boss. But it’s not the existence of this movie that bothers me so much as the fact that Amy Adams is in it. Even last year’s Julie and Julia was difficult to watch at times, mostly because of Adams. Whether by choice or direction, her Julie Powell was practically channeling Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, down to the flustered typing and self-pitying arm flailing. On a second viewing, I found myself wishing I could edit her out so that Streep could evoke Julia Child’s warbly good nature unimpeded.

What happened to Adams? Though she was never exactly a full-blown indie darling, and her earlier films had her playing wide-eyed innocents, she was using that innocence to good effect.  As a displaced princess in Enchantment, Adams’ goofy charm helped propel the plot. After all, who else would be believable as an animated Disney Princess gone astray? Who else could sing to rats as they helped her clean and make it hilarious? Let’s not forget Adams’ wounded nurse in Catch Me If You Can, and let’s especially not forget her as Ashley Johnsten in Junebug:

That movie was devastatingly beautiful because of Adams: her vulnerability, her curiosity, and her open-faced belief that her new sister-in-law Madeleine would be as enthusiastically receptive of her new family as Ashley felt. The fact that Ashley is attempting to make a connection with all the Johnstens is heartbreaking precisely because of her wide-eyed, childlike faith in the fact that if she just keeps talking, they will all love her back.

Now, a drama like Junebug and a rom-com like Leap Year are nowhere near each other in terms of scope and audience. One is a money-grab while the other is reaching for a prize. But I really wish that Adams’ mainstream success–not to mention that of other actresses–didn’t have to come at the expense of nuance and artistry. After all, we shouldn’t all have to pretend that we are flustered and out of control in order to get the recognition we want and deserve. Talent and desire should play a part, too.

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2 Responses

  1. the other one says:

    Leap Year seems like the result of some producer looking over the sales of P.S. I Love You and thinking, oh, Irish stuff+quirky female leads=$$ (end: thinking). Anyways, re: Amy Adams. Ima forgive her wading into the mainstream stupidity every now and then as long as she keeps whipping out stuff like Sunshine Cleaning, too. Also, so much love for Junebug. Who knew Ryan could stray so far from southern California?

  2. […] Year a Load of Shit Following up on Zy’s post bemoaning Amy Adams’s recent career moves, the media concensus is that Leap Year is notably […]

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