STARRING: Meg Ryan, Liev Schreiber, Hugh Jackman, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne, Bradley Whitford, Philip Bosco

2001, 118 Minutes, Directed by: James Mangold

Description: Bachelor Duke Leopold of Albany (Hugh Jackman) is accidentally swept from 1876 to present-day 2001. Adjusting to the shock of his temporal displacement, he falls in love with Manhattan executive Kate (Meg Ryan), whose ex-boyfriend (Liev Schreiber) is Leopold's great-great-grandson. But Leo can't stay in the future . . .

A British duke is accidentally sent forward in time from 1876 to the present day. Hugh Jackman (Wolverine in the X-Men movie) plays the duke and I won't do the obvious and mention how much he reminds me of a much younger Clint Eastwood. He falls in love with a character played by that old stalwart of romantic comedies, Meg Ryan, who has been doing this sort of thing in her sleep since When Harry Met Sally.

Yup, this is romcom (romantic comedy) territory and the time traveling tale is almost coincidental to the plot. Jackman is made to wonder around New York's streets in a daze of bewilderment, the proverbial fish out of water.

Ever notice how today's romantic comedies are the modern equivalent of fairy tales in that they are about how the characters meet? Characters in modern rom coms seldom spend any time together in each other's company. How do they know that they're meant for each other when they barely know one another? (I don't know, but maybe it is a good thing then we won't get to learn what a jerk the prince in Cinderella is after all.) Maybe we should believe in fate I suppose. Recently I watched the John Cusack-starrer Serendipity, which takes this belief in to absurd new heights. Ever since Sleepless in Seattle on-screen couples have been spending little time actually together.

"Will Meg Ryan's 21st century female be happy in a society that treated women only slightly better than the Taliban?"

In Kate & Leopold the on-screen couple spends some time together for a change. Maybe they are meant to be together after all. However, when the Meg Ryan character travels back to the late 19th century to be with Jackman, one cannot help but wonder whether a high-powered 21st century female executive will ever be happy in a society that treated women only slightly better than the Taliban did. Even more interesting: how said emancipated female would cope without the luxury of electricity, flush toilets, refrigerators, dishwashers and the like.

Time travel stories usually have their share of paradoxes. Movies like Back to the Future Part II and Terminator II are usually best enjoyed if one doesn't think about plot inconsistencies and try to apply logic to them. Kate & Leopold however has an ending that negates the entire movie - unintentionally that is, unlike lets say the surprise ending of The Sixth Sense. It is just a case of sloppy filmmaking, I suppose. Or maybe I missed something, I don't know. (Hint: it involves a photograph that has to be taken and a character that enters the room too late for said photograph to have been taken. If you watch the movie you'll know that it is an essential plot point.)

Despite the above, Kate & Leopold is one of the better examples of romantic comedies doing the rounds and even though it is overlong at times, it will make for passable video fodder one dreary Sunday evening.

Small note: One critic observed that "our British duke is supposed to have come from 1876, yet he's somehow familiar with The Pirates of Penzance (first performed 1879) and La Bohème (first performed 1896)."



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