Goode Films

In praise of what we’re calling ‘Goode Films’: the not-great, quite-average turkeys, bombs and bloated messes that we love to love anyway (by way of one perfectly average leap-year rom-com that has charmed its way into many Letterboxd hearts).

There’s a growing tradition of actors getting out ahead of a film they think is gonna be a turkey, to let us know they know it’s not great, as if that absolves their taking the pay-check in the first place. (There’s a smaller tradition of directors tanking their own films the week of release; that’s a blog for another day.)

But if there’s one true thing we’ve learned at Letterboxd, it’s that somebody, somewhere, likes your movie. Call it ‘comfort viewing’, call it a ‘guilty pleasure’. Call it an ugly duckling, a hidden darling, a viewer’s pet. It’s a film that’s not brilliant, it’s not even great, it’s a problematic favorite but you love to love it, and it needs a name. As of leap year 2020, this type of movie will henceforth be known as a Goode Film.

In 2010, which was not a leap year, a romantic comedy named Leap Year was released. It starred Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, a piece of casting chemistry that a particular corner of the Letterboxd community regards to this day as “a fanfic come to life”. “Turgid” is how Goode described Leap Year at the time of its release.

Amy Adams walking away from Matthew Goode.
Amy Adams walking away from Matthew Goode.

Goode took the job, he told The Telegraph, because the Irish location was close to his London home. “It wasn’t because of the script, trust me,” he went on, no doubt causing absolutely zero offence to writing partners Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont. “Was it a bad job? Yes, it was. But, you know, I had a nice time and I got paid.”

Letterboxd wasn’t around when Leap Year came out, but we’re here now to definitively reassure Matthew Goode that there are plenty of five-star Leap Year lovers out here rooting for this cultural collision between two heterosexual white people battling to understand each other’s accent.

The white people in question are Goode and Adams, with Adam Scott in the supporting role of man-Amy’s-character-shouldn’t-marry. Adams’ Anna hears of the Celtic tradition ‘allowing’ (barf) women to pop the “will you marry me?” question to their lovers on leap days, so she follows Jeremy (Scott) from America to Ireland, only to wind up in a car for the rest of the movie with surly Irish bartender Declan (the very English Goode). You can guess the rest.

Amy Adams walks away from Matthew Goode, again.
Amy Adams walks away from Matthew Goode, again.

For context, 2010 was the same movie season in which Tom Ford’s celebrated A Single Man was doing the rounds, with Goode in an important supporting role, indicating a shift away from the somewhat lighter comedy fare he’d logged to date. Adams already had a respectable track record, but her very best (and most serious) work was still ahead of her—therefore, it was the correct moment in an actress’s life to lead a rom-com. As for Adam Scott, his first Parks and Recreation season had only recently begun airing, and his film career was still very much in indie mode. This would be one of his earliest ‘asshole mode’ outings.

Leap Year’s reviews at the time were, well, let’s just say it led to one of Mark Kermode’s greatest rants (he was not a fan). But hindsight, it’s a thing, especially with a cast like that. Let’s not forget, either, that with the (slowly) changing face of film critics comes a changing appreciation of movies targeted to specific (in this case, female) audiences.

On Letterboxd, Leap Year sits at a very respectable number 22 on Caitlin’s definitive rom-com ranking thanks, she writes, to “low-key one of the hottest on-screen pairings ever”. The film can also be found on Drucilla’s extremely popular comprehensive guide to romantic comedies, Maria Luisa’s delightfully color-coordinated chick flicks list (with the important note: “lack of diversity is a reflection of the industry”), and Holly-Beth’s good modern rom-coms.

Leap Year turns up on this list of unconvincing Irish accents (it could have been worse: Goode’s accent started out too thick, which made him sound feral, leading him to dial it back). But the film also boasts the definitive rom-com themes ‘hate to love’ (characters who go from enemies to friends) and fake relationship trope, which makes it a not-bad rom-com overall.

Other things you love about Leap Year: the Rom, the Com, the old Irish men who bicker; Amy Adams; the Irish landscapes; Matthew Goode’s hair; the fact that you could watch it ‘a million times’ and still feel good; the Virgo-Sagittarius energy; that it withstands all the clichés; Declan staring at Anna in the hotel lobby; and that it’s the cutest thing ever.

All in all, a Goode Film. Happy leap day! #changematthewsmind

Editor’s note: this Leap Year is not the 2010 Leap Year that won Michael Rowe the Golden Camera award at Cannes.

It was a pretty Goode ending.
It was a pretty Goode ending.

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