Kate & Leopold

"Weak"

Kate & Leopold Review


As terminally precious as any Meg Ryan vehicle, the time-travel romantic comedy "Kate and Leopold" might warm the easy heart, but it will most certainly numb the brain.

Ryan is talented but seemingly trapped by her demographic appeal in a perpetual loop of cutesy-poo chick flicks. It's something of an ironic joke that this time out the actress plays a market researcher who is introduced while rolling her eyes in the back of a movie theater during a test screening of an appallingly sappy romance.

A flustered Manhattan career gal whose love life frustration is amusingly amplified by her amateur inventor ex-boyfriend (Leiv Schreiber) living in the apartment above hers, Kate McKay (Ryan) has lost all patience with the ex when he excitedly claims to have discovered a portal into the 19th Century -- and returned with his great-great-grandfather in tow. Stuart (Schreiber) then introduces the handsome, princely, mister fancy-pants as Leopold, the third Duke of Albany (Hugh Jackman), and Kate doesn't believe a word of it.

We the viewers know it's true, however, because the movie opens with a humorous 1867 prologue in which an agog Schreiber tries to look inconspicuous while scribbling mad notes and taking pictures with a spy camera in a crowd watching the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. He's also witness to Leopold's discovery that his family is living off their good name so he's going to have to marry for money.

Unfortunately, that little plot device (which is never resolved) is only the beginning of the hackneyed and loosely-adhered gimmickry in this picture, which takes a turn for insipid when the story moves into the present.

Although entirely unconvinced of his antiquated origins, Kate finds herself falling for Leopold after they're left alone when Stuart takes a tumble down an open elevator shaft, winding up in the hospital. Leopold, it seems, was the inventor of the elevator, so when he jumped forward in time, every lift in the world stopped working -- a fact that is hard to grasp since this story element has been inexplicably, conspicuously and clumsily edited out of the film.

Schreiber -- who gives the funniest, most natural performance in "Kate and Leopold" -- has also been deleted from the better part of the picture (nobody even visits him in the hospital) to keep the focus on our time-crossed lovers. They frolic through obligatory stranger-in-a-strange-century clichés (thankfully kept to a minimum), courtly candle-lit dinners and other modern misadventures, while Kate takes the better part of the five reels to catch on that Leopold truly is a time traveler.

On top of its blatant post-production gutting of pivotal plot points, "Kate and Leopold" must ply its characters with a certain witlessness to sustain the story and frequently stumbles over Leopold's inconsistent sense of formality. Asked his name, he replies, "Leopold" (not "I am Leopold, the Duke of Albany") and is happy to go by "Leo." Yet confronted by a beat cop while walking a dog that does his business on the sidewalk, he sniffs, "Are you suggesting, madam, that there exists a law requiring gentlemen to lay hold of canine bowel movements?"

Director James Mangold ("Girl, Interrupted") also assumes the Kleenex-toting target audience for this picture won't mind the willfully sloppy science fiction, which requires suspension of disbelief on a level that action movie directors can only dream of. Time travelers pass between eras by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and falling into a temporal rift, for example. But what happens after they jump? Where and how do they land? The director doesn't care because it's just cheap cinematic subterfuge.

The movie's inevitable happily-ever-after ending is equally burdened by such blatant absurdities and unresolved plot gimmicks. But out of deference to those who don't trust this review, I won't go into them here. Suffice it to say, "Kate and Leopold" is annoyingly disinterested in being anything beyond cute.



Kate & Leopold

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 25th December 2001

Box Office USA: $47.1M

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Production compaines: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 63 Rotten: 63

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Kate McKay, as Leopold, as Stuart Besser, as Charlie McKay, as Darci, as J.J. Camden, Paxton Whitehead as Uncle Millard, as Dr. Geisler, Josh Stamberg as Colleague Bob, as Ad Executive Phil, as Patrice, as Otis, Andrew Jack as Roebling, Stan Tracy as Photographer, as Miss Tree

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.