Kate & Leopold

What do women want? An old-fashioned gentleman, says this time-tripping romantic fantasy, and obligingly supplies tense, disillusioned marketing executive Kate McKay (Meg Ryan) with the most old-fashioned gentleman imaginable: Direct from the year 1876, Leopold (Hugh Jackman), the Third Duke of Albany. Okay, it's creepy that Leopold's great grandson is Kate's...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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What do women want? An old-fashioned gentleman, says this time-tripping romantic fantasy, and obligingly supplies tense, disillusioned marketing executive Kate McKay (Meg Ryan) with the most old-fashioned gentleman imaginable: Direct from the year 1876, Leopold (Hugh Jackman), the Third Duke of Albany. Okay, it's creepy that Leopold's great grandson is Kate's former boyfriend of four years, scientist Stuart Besser (Liev Schreiber), who's discovered a rip in the fabric of time and hauled his own ancestor back to the future. But since Kate doesn't actually believe this handsome hunk of a well-mannered man is from the past, it never really becomes an issue. Of course, if he's not from the past, then why is he parading around Soho in britches and an embroidered frock coat, insisting he's a 19th-century aristocrat? He must be a loon! But Kate's dated cads, schmucks and losers — she's willing to cut Leopold some slack on the basis of all-around dreaminess. And so, in the tradition of TIME AFTER TIME (1979) and SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980), true love conquers a tempestuous century's worth of cultural differences. Leopold, a forward thinker in his own day, adjusts surprisingly well to the 21st century — after the predictable trouble with toasters, telephones and the notion that lady cops have the authority to tell a gentleman he must clean up dog excrement. And the female-in-uniform part is the least of it: Leopold may hail from a time when most men liked their ladies decorative and silly, but he admires a professional woman — he once courted a librarian! Capable Kate, who thinks she's through with fantasies of perfect love, discovers the seductive allure of a man who's willing and able to unhitch a Central Park carriage horse and gallop after a purse snatcher on her behalf. He even helps her out at work and advises her goofy brother (Breckin Meyer) on the proper way to impress girls. The bad news: Leopold must eventually return to 1876, or risk permanently disrupting the proper sequence of history. Originally developed for Sandra Bullock, this soft-centered bonbon gets off to a maladroit start, struggling awkwardly to find its tone. But once it settles down, it becomes a star-making vehicle for Jackman, and a supremely polished example of the sort of swoony love story cherished by women who secretly hope that some day their prince will come. Filmmaker James Mangold appears in a cameo as a director whose movie is being test-marketed to death by Kate's company.

Note: This movie was trimmed slightly after it was screened for short-lead critics, a highly unusual move so close to a picture's release date. Mangold's cameo was deleted, as were a brief shot of Kate in a 19th-century party sequence and all references to the fact that Stuart and Leopold are related.

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: What do women want? An old-fashioned gentleman, says this time-tripping romantic fantasy, and obligingly supplies tense, disillusioned marketing executive Kate McKay (Meg Ryan) with the most old-fashioned gentleman imaginable: Direct from the year 1876, Le… (more)

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