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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.22%
Worth A Look: 9.72%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad25%
Total Crap: 20.83%

5 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Kate and Leopold
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Back To The Futile"
2 stars

OK, I’m getting tired of Meg Ryan. All those in favor, raise their hands. 1, 2, 4, (Michelle stop giving me the finger.) OK, not as many as I would have hoped. How about tired of Meg Ryan in movies without Tom Hanks or Billy Crystal? 10, 25, 100, (Michelle, I said stop.) Maybe, its not so much Meg Ryan herself, but the movies she’s been choosing outside of the Hanks factor have been pretty spotty and I’m tired of discovering her new films with a puckered wince. But Meg has been around for years and is more than likely here to stay despite any dwindling box office grosses, but I’m here to put a stop to a far bigger hack, still early in his career. And his name is……James Mangold.

HA! You all thought I was going to say Hugh Jackman, didn’t you? Well, you would be wrong because Jackman’s titular performance in this movie is about the only thing that made me put down the migraine medication and vomit bag. He is absolutely charming, selling his 19th century character with every accented syllable. And by selling the character he can sell the movie, if it weren’t such a choppy, underwritten and directed mess. Jackman’s track record has also been spotty since his tremendous moviestar-making turn in last summer’s X-Men. He was already in another miserable romantic comedy this year (Someone Like You) and after this summer’s Swordfish, Kate & Leopold is his second film of 2001 to have a first act speech about how bad the state of American cinema is. Someone give this Exhibit a letter.

Kate & Leopold is basically Somewhere In Time – The Dyslexic Version. Instead of a modern day man willing himself back to the early 1900s to find the woman of his dreams (or paintings), we have a man from the late 1800s brought forward in time to 2001 to find, well, Meg Ryan. Actually that’s not his purpose because it was all just an accident caused by Stuart (Liev Schreiber) the inventor who also happens to be Leopold’s great-great grandfather who also happens to have invented the elevator, at least according to this movie. Stuart is also the ex-boyfriend of Kate and also happens to live in the apartment above her. The Time-Space Continuum doesn’t have this many coincidences.

Kate works as one of the scourges of American culture – the publicist. She looks to up the points of movies through focus group screenings and has no scruples about selling putrid butter products to the unsuspecting public. That is until Leopold drops into her life. That’s when she starts to get him to sell the putrid butter products. You see, Kate just happens to be doing one of those Imperial Margarine-like butter commercials where their commercial spokesman is best represented by a charming English fellow (from New York) dressed in 19th century garb.

Wait a minute! Wasn’t this movie more of a “fish out of water” comedy with a major in how men should treat and talk to women? That’s more like a dropped elective on the class schedule of screenwriters Steven Rogers (Stepmom, Hope Floats) and James Mangold who shuffle the priorities faster than a Vegas poker dealer on a Jolt jag. Leopold jumps at the loud music and fast cars and addresses Kate in the finer art of making toast. He even gets to chase down a mugger, in the fast-becoming cliché of stealing one of NYPD’s finest horses and riding through Central Park.

The only time that Kate & Leopold succeeds is when it does address its selected major of how to treat a lady. There’s a nice wit and verve to the way Leopold embarrasses Kate’s boss (Bradley Whitford of TV’s The West Wing) by pointing out his inept attempts to bed her down and giving Kate’s actor brother (Breckin Meyer) some lessons in how to charm the hotties. It also helps to actually LOOK like Hugh Jackman, a little wrinkle in the charm school the film never addresses. Could George McFly really succeed in the same way that Wolverine would by spouting some well-structured sentences?

Actually, Back to the Future deserves absolutely no mention when discussing Kate and Leopold. I feel like drafting an apology letter to Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale for bringing it up at all. But time travel is a tricky subject for drama or comedy and if you’re going to introduce complications, you better follow through on them because Marty and the Doc aren’t here to repair them.

Look at the early consequences of Leopold being brought forward in time. Being the inventor of “the lift” and all, elevators begin to malfunction. They stop on the wrong floor as if it’s The Man With Two Brains and even sideline Stuart in the hospital for two-thirds of the movie when he falls down an open shaft. So obviously if he’s not around to invent the elevator, the elevator will cease to exist and our way of life will be threatened, right? “Um, I’m sorry I forgot what we were talking about,” says the movie. Since the first passenger elevator was installed by Elisha Graves Otis in New York in 1857 and over 2,000 were installed in office buildings, hotels and department stores across America by 1873, the whole point seems moot.

Perhaps a little more disturbing is Stuart’s encouragement of Kate’s romance with Leopold in the final act. Since it involves a little time travel herself (a plot point blatantly tossed at us in the opening scene), technically Stuart would have dated his great-great grandmother and persuaded her into becoming a blood relative. Finally, a movie that takes the bold stand of encouraging incest. I can see the tagline now - “This Christmas, you will believe in porking your grandmother.”

Director James Mangold burst onto the indie scene with 1995’s “Heavy”, a decent film perhaps a tad overrated. He got a little more press with 1997’s “Cop Land” mostly for his cast which included Stallone, Keitel, Liotta and DeNiro. A good film, occasionally even great, but still possessed moments of chop-chop that could have fleshed out supporting characters and subplots. Then came 1999’s disasterous “Girl, Interrupted.” Sure, Angelina Jolie won an Oscar, but it was that I described as having “no point whatsoever.” Kate & Leopold also seems to be devoid of the structure that is necessary to telling a complete story. It’s one of the first things you’re taught in screenwriting class. First, second and third acts, climax, conclusion, arcs. Ironic how a film about timelines seems to have no line of its own.

Somewhere In Time has a cult following nearly unmatched in the world of obscure, nearly forgotten movies. A fan club meets once a year here in Illinois. To do what, I have no idea, but I do know that there will be no such fan club for Kate & Leopold. I seriously doubt it would have even gotten past the internet phase of Miramax’s Project Greenlight, let alone make it to a finalist’s pitch meeting. Nearly 10,000 entries into that contest (good & bad scripts) and somehow this film makes it to theaters and has the audacity to suggest how OTHER films are “sucking the life out of American cinema?” Hugh Jackman is going to escape unscathed from this film, but hopefully the next film he chooses will make that statement and have the power to back it up.

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originally posted: 12/21/01 17:44:06
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User Comments

2/09/17 Suzanne Meg's haircut was distracting; Hugh was a dreamboat 4 stars
12/22/11 Dr.Lao Girly porn about how wonderful men were in the age when women were considered property 1 stars
7/11/08 Rio A damn fine example of how annoying chivalry can get. But at least Breckin Meyer was in it. 1 stars
2/16/08 David Cohen I don't think I was the target audience of this empty headed drivel 1 stars
12/20/06 William Goss A surprisingly amiable, if tidy, time-travel rom-com. Director's cut is more interesting. 3 stars
2/09/06 sweetgrrl1972 Uptight, unlikable women meets rude, effeminate man. Creepy incest implied with ex 1 stars
12/08/04 Stephanie Pennell IT is a sweet movie 5 stars
10/26/04 Aaron Smith Compare Jackman's performance here with his Wolverine in X-Men. 4 stars
10/24/04 R.W. Welch Time as a pretzel...interesting notion. Okay fantasy romance tho a little uneven. 3 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Passable, hardly exceptional 3 stars
5/09/04 Cynic How can a man from 1876 see an opera (La Boheme) which was first written in 1896? 1 stars
5/03/04 Elizabeth There are mistakes in every movie. I've seen muchworse but excludingthe mistakes it's great 5 stars
3/30/04 Faustus It's all about Jackman- just skip the Meg Ryan solo scenes, and it's almost watchable. 2 stars
11/06/03 Monster W. Kung Eeeh... it's ok. Not too painful is right. 3 stars
8/14/03 Panda Regardless of the bad facts, its a good getaway from life 4 stars
7/25/03 Shadaan Feleli What a waste of a gorgeous cast ! 2 stars
5/30/03 Kelli Shit, shit, and more shit 1 stars
5/10/03 JL Hugh is sexy, Meg needs to go away. Or pick diffrent roles some of the time. 3 stars
2/25/03 jhelum excellent movie it makes u dream when dreams are almost unaffordable 4 stars
1/08/03 tina crap 2 stars
7/30/02 Kyle As far as chick flicks go, you could do worse. 2 stars
7/05/02 KMG #1 Hugh must ALWAYS take his shirt off, #2 Meg must never act again 2 stars
6/18/02 Roy Smith Wolverine saves it, Ryan has lost it. Not too painful. 3 stars
6/15/02 natasha some genuine laughs, Hugh Jackman deserves better material 4 stars
6/12/02 hilary awesome 5 stars
6/02/02 Chris the greatest romance of the year. Rare is a film that teaches us how to love and be in love 5 stars
5/23/02 Veronica Foxx Meg needs 2 pry her mop head out of her own ass & realize she sucks. Find a new role 4 once 2 stars
5/19/02 sybille lovely - though not for the brain, definitely for the heart! 4 stars
4/28/02 Danielle H it rocked 5 stars
3/26/02 susan coon its a great movie 5 stars
3/15/02 Christine Mendoza Meg, Hugh and Breckin are GREAT! Loved the Movie! 5 stars
1/31/02 The Queene of Romance NEWSBREAK: PRINCE CHARMING FOUND: Hugh Jackman in "Kate & Leopold" 5 stars
1/24/02 Dan Hogan Jackman was good, Ryan below par, movie was uneven. Below average chic flic. 3 stars
1/08/02 The Boy In The Designer Bubble Meg Ryan needs to call Helen Hunt for advice on how to be a successful mediocre actress! 1 stars
1/05/02 Suzz light entertainment; Ryan needs to find a new role to play 3 stars
1/04/02 KMG Meg is a hosebag...stupid bitch! I wanna fuck Hugh's dick 'tween my tits 3 stars
1/04/02 Matt Utt Kate and Leopold are the names of my illegitimate children. I pack fudge with Joe Stark 5 stars
12/31/01 poetchuck Like Meg Ryan -- like this movie 5 stars
12/27/01 Todd My girlfriend likes this movie, so now I have to dump her. This movie is donkey shit. 1 stars
12/27/01 Morpheous WHY GOD! WHY! WHO GREENLIGHTS THIS CRAP! 1 stars
12/26/01 Raiven dumb, formulaic, sloppy, predictable: I hate myself for liking it 4 stars
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  25-Dec-2001 (PG-13)



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