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Kate and Leopold

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Kate and Leopold

Starring: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman
Director: James Mangold
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: December 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Natasha Lyonne, Breckin Meyer, Liev Schreiber, Bradley Whitford, James Mangold

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
3.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

James Mangold's KATE & LEOPOLD is as gracious and charming as its hero, Leopold (Hugh Jackman, SWORDFISH and X-MEN), the third Duke of Albany. The Duke doesn't know it yet, but he's about to fall head over heels in love with Kate McKay (Meg Ryan). The problem is their age difference -- about 125 years! It's a time traveling thing. She's firmly in the now, but he is accidentally brought in on a portal from 1876.

The beauty of the story is its focal point. It isn't a science fiction tale or a traditional fish-out-of-water story. The concentration stays less on the technological advances in the past century and more on the changes in our manners and mores. Our material possessions are radically different but so is the way that we treat each other. Some of these differences are humorous, as the way that Leopold rises whenever a lady like Kate leaves the table, and some involve issues of integrity, such as Leopold's refusal to reap material gains for something that he doesn't believe in.

As the story starts, Stuart (Liev Schreiber), Kate's ex-boyfriend and next-door neighbor, is visiting 1876 New York City via a portal. While there he runs into Leopold, a broke English duke who has been sent by his family to America to marry someone -- anyone -- with money. A forlorn but dashingly handsome guy, he is an inventor who has this idea for a contraption that we now know as an elevator.

When Stuart returns to 2001, Leopold comes along as an unintentional stowaway. Of course, New Yorkers take his fancy clothes as a Sgt. Pepper outfit and don't for a second think he's from any century other than our own. Kate's brother, Charlie (Breckin Meyer), pegs him for an actor like himself.

Meg Ryan, even if she is playing a part she's played many times before, is an absolute charmer. The script fits her like a well-worn glove. With a tendency to be unlucky in love, Kate tries to ignore her failing love life and throw herself into her work, which is to conduct focus groups for product research. A perfectly cast Hugh Jackman as Leopold proves to be just the man for her.

While Leopold is in wide-eyed awe of everything about him, Kate becomes enchanted by this gallant man. Never has she known such a sincere and articulate gentleman. That they are destined for each other is obvious to everyone, except them. We fall just as much in love with them as they, eventually, do with each other. Along the way, the movie takes us on a satisfying journey that leaves us laughing, smiling and feeling just a little bit more optimistic about mankind. Sans schmaltz and sans tragedy, this is one of the few Christmas movies that delivers some good old fashioned entertainment that will leave you happy and satisfied. And, it's a lot of fun. Could we ask for more?

KATE & LEOPOLD runs 1:58. It is rated PG-13 for "brief strong language" and would be acceptable for kids of just about any age, although there isn't much in it to interest those under 8.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave the picture *** 1/2. He thought Meg Ryan was terrific. He found the plot fascinating and the movie funny.

The film opens in nationwide release in the United States on Christmas Day, 2001. In the Silicon Valley, it will be playing at the Camera Cinemas, the AMC theaters and the Century theaters.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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