Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4
James Mangold's KATE & LEOPOLD is as gracious and charming as its hero, Leopold
(Hugh Jackman, SWORDFISH and X-MEN), the third Duke of Albany. The Duke doesn't
know it yet, but he's about to fall head over heels in love with Kate McKay (Meg
Ryan). The problem is their age difference -- about 125 years! It's a time
traveling thing. She's firmly in the now, but he is accidentally brought in on
a portal from 1876.
The beauty of the story is its focal point. It isn't a science fiction tale or
a traditional fish-out-of-water story. The concentration stays less on the
technological advances in the past century and more on the changes in our
manners and mores. Our material possessions are radically different but so is
the way that we treat each other. Some of these differences are humorous, as
the way that Leopold rises whenever a lady like Kate leaves the table, and some
involve issues of integrity, such as Leopold's refusal to reap material gains
for something that he doesn't believe in.
As the story starts, Stuart (Liev Schreiber), Kate's ex-boyfriend and next-door
neighbor, is visiting 1876 New York City via a portal. While there he runs into
Leopold, a broke English duke who has been sent by his family to America to
marry someone -- anyone -- with money. A forlorn but dashingly handsome guy, he
is an inventor who has this idea for a contraption that we now know as an
When Stuart returns to 2001, Leopold comes along as an unintentional stowaway.
Of course, New Yorkers take his fancy clothes as a Sgt. Pepper outfit and don't
for a second think he's from any century other than our own. Kate's brother,
Charlie (Breckin Meyer), pegs him for an actor like himself.
Meg Ryan, even if she is playing a part she's played many times before, is an
absolute charmer. The script fits her like a well-worn glove. With a tendency
to be unlucky in love, Kate tries to ignore her failing love life and throw
herself into her work, which is to conduct focus groups for product research. A
perfectly cast Hugh Jackman as Leopold proves to be just the man for her.
While Leopold is in wide-eyed awe of everything about him, Kate becomes
enchanted by this gallant man. Never has she known such a sincere and
articulate gentleman. That they are destined for each other is obvious to
everyone, except them. We fall just as much in love with them as they,
eventually, do with each other. Along the way, the movie takes us on a
satisfying journey that leaves us laughing, smiling and feeling just a little
bit more optimistic about mankind. Sans schmaltz and sans tragedy, this is one
of the few Christmas movies that delivers some good old fashioned entertainment
that will leave you happy and satisfied. And, it's a lot of fun. Could we ask
KATE & LEOPOLD runs 1:58. It is rated PG-13 for "brief strong language" and
would be acceptable for kids of just about any age, although there isn't much in
it to interest those under 8.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the picture *** 1/2. He thought Meg Ryan was
terrific. He found the plot fascinating and the movie funny.
The film opens in nationwide release in the United States on Christmas Day,
2001. In the Silicon Valley, it will be playing at the Camera Cinemas, the AMC
theaters and the Century theaters.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes