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Kate & Leopold (PG-13)
Official Site
Director: James Mangold
Producers: Cathy Konrad
Written by: James Mangold, Steven Rogers
Cast: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne
Rating: out of 5

A little chivalry goes a long way. According to this film, all it takes for a guy to get a girl these days is good manners. Yeah, right! But add a sexy British accent and movie-star good looks, and hey, maybe they’re onto something after all.

KATE AND LEOPOLD is the story of two strangers in New York City, separated by a hundred years. The film opens in the late nineteenth century, as Leopold, the Third Duke of Albany, is at a party where he is to choose a rich wife to marry that very night. And guess what, he doesn’t love a single one of them. What’s a fellow to do?

Skip forward to 2001. Kate McKay (Ryan) is a hard-edged, high-powered market researcher just out of a four-year relationship with time-space continuum specialist Stuart (Schreiber). She is the stereotypical woman wronged, a no-nonsense heroine. Toward the beginning of the film she says, with a bitter gleam in her eye, “Just give me the truth, straight up. No chaser.” Later, she proclaims that Love is like Santa Claus, just another childhood myth. Come on, let’s be a little less cliché, please.

But wait! Stuart has secretly found a “crack in the fabric of time,” a portal that accidentally transports his great-great-grandfather Leopold from 1876 to the new millennium. Who happens to be hot. And ultimately charming. Then Stuart falls down an elevator shaft just in time, and he is conveniently missing for the duration of the movie, allowing Kate and Leopold to fall in love.

As my mother would say, the movie was “cute.” I surprised myself by liking it on the whole, aside from a few of the more forced, cheesy scenes. One that comes to mind is Stuart’s lengthy monologue on how he found the portal. He uses an extended metaphor involving a dog seeing a rainbow. Need I say more?

I laughed. Out loud. And way more than I anticipated. Kate’s brother Charlie (Meyer) getting advice on dating from Leopold was pretty amusing. As were Leopold’s discoveries of modern “conveniences” like frozen dinners, pooper-scoopers, telephones, and toasters. Ryan’s character sort of grows on you, as she begins to believe in love after all. Newcomer Hugh Jackman is sufficiently charming and believable as a Victorian bachelor.

KATE AND LEOPOLD is a highly cute romantic comedy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no FRENCH KISS, but it does its duty for its genre and leaves you with a contented feeling. Naturally, it’s completely unbelievable, but hey, you saw the preview. You know you’re going to have to suspend your disbelief more than a little bit. Despite the unlikelihood of a guy from the past traveling through time just to sweep Meg Ryan off her feet, it is a creative little modern fairy tale. If you’re okay with that, you’ll enjoy yourself.

—Michelle Fajkus

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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