|Kate & Leopold||
Shining knight. Leopold woos his lady fair (Jackman and Ryan).
dir James Mangold|
scr James Mangold, Steven Rogers
with Hugh Jackman, Meg Ryan, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Bradley Whitford, Natasha Lyonne, Philip Bosco, Charlotte Ayanna, Stephanie Sanditz, Kristen Schaal, Paxton Whitehead, Spalding Gray
release US 25.Dec.01; UK 5.Apr.02
It's nearly impossible to believe that the man behind such subtle and intense films as Heavy, Cop Land and Girl Interrupted could create this fluffy little rom-com. Yes, it's sweet and enjoyable, but it's also a bit plodding. Leopold (Jackman) is a 19th century duke who accidentally follows bumbling scientist Stuart (Schreiber) through a time portal into modern-day Manhattan. There he meets Stuart's neighbour, the career woman Kate (Ryan) and her actor brother Charlie (Meyer). All the usual wacky time-travel antics ensue, mostly revolving around Leopold's gentle, well-bred chivalry in fast-paced, get-all-you-can New York.
We are never in doubt for a second about where this is going, so all the silly plot mechanisms are even more annoying than usual. Keeping Stuart in a hospital so Leopold and Kate can fall in love; Kate involving Leopold in her work crises; Leopold helping Charlie land the girl of his dreams--yawn, yawn, yawn! The only place this film works at all is in Jackman's eyes; he's charming and talented enough to carry five of these films at once, adding nuance to each scene and making a lot more of his character than the script does. Ryan is an old pro who has made a career out of romantic comedy roles exactly like this. And the supporting cast is quirky as usual, adding just enough humour to keep us laughing. Mangold does have a few nice directoral touches--the film looks wonderful. But he only avoids some of the cliches (Leopold's discovery of 21st century technology is refreshingly subdued) and then lays on the romance far too thickly, right up to a gooey speech at the end. At least he never tries to explain the time portal nonsense. And at least he remembers to keep it charming and funny enough for us to forget the real world for a couple of hours.
|"I was in the mood for a love story - and I wanted to laugh. Hugh Jackman is awesome - I have enjoyed watching him since he was in X-Men. And he is wonderful in this movie - a man from the past who is showing men in the present how to treat a lady - say nice things, compliment her, make her dinner, dance with her ... stuff like that. We both laughed out loud often in this movie, yet it is still a wonderful love story. We modern women still love a romantic, love to have our coffee made, make us dinner, say our hair is nice - you know, charm us! But if I want to criticize, and I guess I do, I gotta complain about Meg Ryan's hair cut. Okay, I am being petty here, but it only looked good when she had it up - this raggy cut is unappealing to me - it looked rough and uneven - yuck! Okay I criticized, but over all I think this is a wonderful movie. Go see it with someone you love!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 25.Jan.02|