KATE & LEOPOLD (2001) 

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Meg Ryan
Hugh Jackman
Liev Schreiber
Breckin Meyer
Natasha Lyonne
Bradley Whitford
Paxton Whitehead
Spaulding Gray
Philip Bosco

James Mangold



Time: 118 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance/Fantasy

Academy Award nomination for Best Song.

It's understandable that Meg Ryan is bored with roles that enforce her "America's Sweetheart" persona, but the only thing her modern-day career woman character in this painful piece proves is her poor taste in material. Though supposedly a romantic comedy, the humor is tedious and the only swoon-inducing aspect is Jackman's heart-stopping physique. I applaud their efforts for trying to inject a little originality into this tired genre. Unfortunately, they don't quite manage to marry the film's old-fashioned charm with its' distinctly modern sensibility. Not to mention that the time travel aspect leaves more holes in the plot than found in swiss cheese. Jackman is perfectly cast as the aristocratic and chivalrous Duke of Albany, who finds the modernization of his beloved New York City both horrifying and fascinating. His forays into the big city deliver most of the film's funniest moments. Trapped in the future, he shows his modern day compatriots, played by Schreiber and Meyer, the proper way to woo a lady.

Ryan, on the other hand, has the unbelievable task of trying to resist his obvious charms. As a woman of the 20th century, she's smart, strong and independent, which are characteristics that should be applauded, but instead are used as reasons why she can't find a decent man. She's a successful, confident woman and yet her life is incomplete without a partner. I know, this is a film about finding "the one", but why does she have to be the one to sacrifice everything for love? Sure, the Duke travelled through time to find her, but that wasn't exactly his choice...or was it? (You wouldn't believe me even if I could explain it.) While the plot may be mind-bogglingly silly, it's near outrageousness is not this film's main problem. Ryan is. She plays Kate as so bitter and forelorn, I just couldn't believe that anyone would fall in love with her, especially someone like the Duke. I guess he prefers a woman who challenges his heart and mind rather than the simpering pushovers from his own time. Score one for the present-day gal.

"Theoretically, if you go to the past in the future, then your future lies in the past. This is a picture of you in the future – in the past."

It's too bad that Kate isn't as interested in true love as Leopold is. Perhaps then, this story would have been even remotely entertaining. She drags her feet the whole way, draining any romance and energy right out of the proceedings. By the time she finally believes in him and their cosmic connection, I was happier to know the film was almost over than that they were going to live happily ever after. One can hardly fault Hugh Jackman, who clearly thought that being in a film with Meg Ryan would be a boon to his burgeoning career and tackles his character with gusto if not a great deal of depth. Even the respect one has in him as a great inventor is truncated when you realize he got his idea for the elevator, etc., from his time spent in the future, not from his own imagination...or so one infers from how the story plays out. Whether the lack of a spark between him and Ryan is due to the mediocre script or her phoned-in performance is a conundrum I don't care to solve. And if you can make any sense out of the time travel aspect – Kate's already lived in the past when they get to the future – you're a smarter person than I. Even Ryan fans will be hard-pressed to enjoy this flick.

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