Kate & Leopold Movie Review

At first glance, Kate & Leopold appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill romantic fantasy. A successful, 21st century woman meets the Duke of Albany circa 1876, via a hiccup in the time-space continuum. And although they can't find true love within their own generations, it might be possible with one another. Sounds like a recipe for a safe, mushy Hollywood movie, so what makes this film different? It's the way writer-director James Mangold (Copland, Girl,Interrupted) avoids stereotype, with an intelligent, crowd-pleasing take on the time travel love story. It's smart enough to remind us just how stupid a movie like Just Visiting is.

And not only is the storytelling sharp, but the characters are too. Meg Ryan (not too perky, not too whiny) is Kate McKay, working her way up the NYC corporate ladder, but too busy for love after a four-year relationship with her brilliant ex, Stuart (Liev Schreiber). When Stuart discovers an open portal in the fabric of time -- you have to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge at just the right time -- he accidentally brings the 19th century Duke back to modern-day New York. Everyone involved, including Ryan's kid brother Charlie (the underrated Breckin Meyer), clearly has some baggage and life experience, and Mangold's script (co-written with Steven Rogers) clues us in without clobbering us.

Kate's disappointment with Stuart and his zealous dedication to science is handled in one short phone conversation, infused with sadness and humor. Kate's view on Charlie's attempted profession gracefully slips out when she refers to him attending "actor camp." It's not that the story is subtle or even unpredictable, but some of its delivery is.

Some of Kate & Leopold does take place in the 1870s, of course, but the film is original enough to open there rather than in the current time (normally, we'd see an unhappy, modern Meg Ryan begin a film like this). In the first scene, Jackman, proper and genuine as Leopold, notices Stuart snapping a digital camera and tries chasing him down. Later in the sequence, Leopold (and we) pass right by Meg Ryan. Huh? You may have to look closely, but the filmmakers have taken a big enough risk to let us know that her character will be there -- you just have to hang around to find out how and why. And that's the fun part.

While in 2001 New York, Leopold doesn't go through the typical problems you might see in other time-shock films -- you know, the shock of riding the subway, hailing a cab, etc. He does dodge traffic here and there, but he acclimates well, right in step with the intellect of his character. He marvels that the Brooklyn Bridge still stands, he tells wonderful stories, and he even rigs the toaster to work the way he wants it. Not too many signs of the old, dumb, fish-out-of-water tales, and that adds to the film's individuality.

Leopold is also a wealth of advice -- perhaps because he's smarter than many of his current day compatriots, but more so because he's well-mannered, cultured, and sympathetic. By the time he gives Charlie romantic advice, we're really rooting for both of them.

A good sign of Kate & Leopold's strength is that the story really doesn't hinge on the budding romance between the title characters. The lively pace and handful of subplots buoy the film, as do the performances, notably the small role played by Schreiber. But Ryan and Jackman work fairly well together, and having them fall in love results in a light, satisfying movie with an equally likable ending.

The DVD includes both the theatrical version of the film and a director's cut, which aren't noticably different from each other. Mangold provides commentary along with some deleted scenes -- which broach the why-didn't-anyone-ever-mention-that!? issue of Schreiber's character's possibly creepy family ties to Ryan's Kate. Delish.

Fab jammies.


Comments

Kate & Leopold Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG-13, 2001

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Beyonce teased us all over the weekend, when she shared a 15 second...

Beyonce and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Tease Us With Tantalising 15 Second Teaser Clip [Video]

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

With an estimated income of $75 million between June 2013 and June 2014, Downey Jr...

Robert Downey Jr Crowned King of the Box Office

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

Ahead of his wedding to Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney has...

George Clooney On Getting That Tabloid Apology And Why He Had To

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Farrah Franklin, the forgotten fourth member of Destiny’s Child, found herself...

A Short History of Forgotten Destiny’s Child Member Farrah Franklin

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Speaking at the Television Critics Association preview night on Monday, lead actor...

Sons of Anarchy Final Season: Charlie Hunnam Spills Details

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance

Yet in conversation with Access Hollywood, Diesel summed up the relationship between...

Vin Diesel Talks This Summer's Weirdest Bromance
Advertisement

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

There's a new boyband on the UK pop scene who have somehow managed to storm single charts...

Rixton - Me and My Broken Heart Single Review

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Krusty the Clown may have chucked his last chuckle and played his last Itchy and Scratchy...

RIP Krusty the Clown? His 10 Best Moments

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV

After being on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, some people like to retire...

Bachelorette No Longer: Ashley And JP Rosenbaum Find Out Sex Of Baby On Live TV


More recommendations

Advertisement