Directed By: James Mangold
Written By: Steven Rogers, James Mangold
Starring: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Brecklin Meyer, Bradley Whitford
Rated: PG-13 (Brief Strong Language)
Running Time: 120 Min.
People love Meg Ryan. People love New York City. People also love romantic comedies, especially if they star Meg Ryan and take place in New York City! Such is the power of marketing firms that conduct consumer focus groups. These are the geniuses who discover which movies, television shows, and perky blonde actresses the general public will be sure to adore. In Kate & Leopold, Meg Ryan plays Kate, a career woman who works for a big New York advertising firm that does just that. Kate has plenty of people to guide her toward the perfect margarine pitchman, but no one to guide her toward the perfect man to revive her nearly non-existent romantic life. Did I mention that people love movies in which Meg Ryan seems to have trouble finding the right guy? Well, they do!
People also love fantasy, and to complicate things further for poor Kate, she becomes entangled not only with romance, but time travel, paradox, and even causality loops! Why, it's almost enough to make her perky blonde head spin. Seems that Kate's ex-boyfriend, Stuart, played by Liev Schreiber, has found a crack in the fabric of time-space, spent a day in 1876, and has accidentally brought his own great, great grandfather, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, played by Hugh Jackman, back with him! Could Leopold be Kate's perfect guy, or just the perfect margarine selling device? Only time will tell!
As with The Sixth Sense and The Green Mile, Kate & Leopold includes a supernatural element within a story that really centers on down to earth human relationships and emotion. The time travel aspects are handled with surprising subtlety, as is the comedy that ensues because of them. Leopold is a man out of time, and there are, of course, the standard scenes involving his surprise and shock toward modern custom and technology. Leopold however, being a rather entelligent fellow, adapts quite quickly to his new surroundings and circumstances. His reactions are always grounded in reality, and are never too silly or farcical. In fact, most of the situations Leopold finds himself faced with are downright mundane! What aspects of 21st century living he cannot adapt to, he adapts to suit his own 19th century sensibilities.
At the heart of Kate & Leopold is not time travel, but the story of how concepts such as respect, grace and manners seem to no longer apply in today's society. That Leopold's gentlemanly display of these traits is seen by others as bizarre behavior is truly telling. Is it any surprise that career woman Kate just happens to enjoy being treated, for once, like a lady? And if chivalry is dead, why have I not been informed?
The romance that follows is as innocent, sweet, and pleasing to Meg Ryan fans as ever, and is rarely overshadowed by the time traveling elements of the story. Meg Ryan is still pretty darn cute in this type of role, and Hugh Jackman gives an excellent perfomance as Leopold. This movie will certainly mark an important turning point for Jackman's career as a first-rate leading man.
On the downside, while most of the romance works very well, if it ends as it seems to, the resulting romantic implications are best not thought about for any length of time! In addition, the pacing is a bit awkward, as some of the characters disappear from the plot for far too long. However, these two things do not detract from the overall fun of the movie.
So, if you've enjoyed any movie starring Meg Ryan, then you're sure to have a pleasant time with this one! Kate & Leopold is a very entertaining romantic tale. (Focus group results may vary!)