Kate and Leopold (2001) — Girl falls in love with a guy from the past

“Love is a leap. Lamentably, I was never inspired to jump.”

Justin’s rating: All hail Meg Ryan, the RomCom queen!

Justin’s review: Kate & Leopold is near-shameless in making any males viewing it feel so completely inept as to consider a quick leap off the nearest bridge. Which is, incidentally, how time travel works in this film, but that’s just common sense. This movie is in my wife’s top ten most repeated titles, probably because it plays out like an ideal romance novel put to screen. This film states that while there aren’t any good men available right here and now, there were back in different time periods. And they all want to have babies, right away. Man apparently reached his romantic zenith around 1875 and has been in a steady decline ever since.

See? Women reading this are just nodding as if it’s common knowledge.

I got a little hoodwinked into seeing this because it does involve a smidge of time travel, and that feeds the geek in me. The scifi elements are quite minimal, and Leopold’s (Hugh Jackman) transition from the 19th century to the early 21st is so smooth as to render a baby’s bottom rough and scaly in comparison.

Leopold is accidentally sucked into modern times from 1870 by Kate’s (Meg Ryan) ex-boyfriend. Leopold’s high society nature is hilariously out of place — or so the scriptwriters would hope — but his “old fashioned” sense of honor, decorum, and tact are heads and shoulders above the current male population. He’s a dreamy hunk from the past, and he now has access to deodorant. Shibby.

It’s slightly-crazy Kate who has a problem seeing it, being all career-driven and two-dimensional. While it normally would take about two drinks and a “check please,” Leopold endures a week of courting of Lady McNutty before she capitulates and falls into a deep swoon. Weirdly enough, the romance is actually a weak link in the film, mostly because Leopold is the key character and Kate an emotionally-void woman who’s on autopilot from Meg Ryan’s many other romanticides.

But honestly? As much as Leopold is the epitome of everything I find disturbing about romance, he’s also a pretty cool guy. That’s how Hugh Jackman rolls. He walks a fine line between being superior in just about every way other than techno-savvy and being a genuinely nice guy from a slower time whom you’d like to get to know. Inferiority aside, Leopold is food for thought about how much we have lost in the art of courtship and love, and how little some of us really work to make relationships and romance right. There’s nothing wrong with a higher standard, as long as it isn’t an impossible one.

I therefore pardon this film. It’s harmless enough for most guys to wade through it, holding the shoulders of their dates as they try to make a dash for the television to marry the images and have their image babies. And it’s guilty pleasure bites for all the womenfolk who need a break from catcalls and cheesy pick-up lines.

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