Monday, February 2, 2009

KATE AND LEOPOLD (2001)

CHICK FLICK DATING TIP: Don’t ever see someone who lives in the apartment above you, especially if he can bend time.

THE CARD:

Foppish Wolverine, Rodney’s foil Dr. Barbay, Bret and Jemaine-less Mel, jerky Orson, spurned and bitchy Sally, precocious Blacky, a Meyer who will never win an Oscar, and a time-traveling donut.

More details here.

THE ANGLE:

Leopold (Hugh Jackman) is a broke aristocrat living in New York in the late 19th century. Unlike most of his kind, he admires the nouveau riche entrepreneurs and inventors of the time and disdains the leeching aristocracy who mock them. Rugged and handsome, he is a romantic at heart, culturally literate and skillful with horses. OK, you can stop your swooning now. With his fortune dwindling, he is being pressured by his uncle (Paxton Whitehead) to marry into money. Unc arranges a party with debutantes from new money families so that Leopold can make a score, much to his reluctance. At the party, Leopold encounters Stuart (Liev Schreiber), a swarthy, suspicious-looking dude taking pictures with a tiny camera that’s yet to be invented. He chases after him and the pair is caught in a storm that turns out to be a time portal to the 21st century, specifically pre-9/11 2001 New York. Stuart is an amateur physicist who discovers that time portals are as naturally occurring as the weather and has found out a way to predict where they will appear. Of course, none of this sounds amazing to anyone else in the picture, but nonetheless… In addition to an out-of-time noble, Stuart also has to contend with his recent ex-girlfriend Kate (Meg Ryan) who lives in the apartment below him with her unemployed actor brother Charlie (Breckin Meyer). Kate is still bitter about their break-up and has no qualms with making his life a living hell. Enter Leopold, dashing and debonair, ready to dispute her bitterness about love with his quick wit and ability to quote from operas. Not so fast, Leo. Kate doubts she will ever find true love and dives deeply into her career as an ad executive. And furthermore, Kate is unmoved or impressed by whom she believes is some nutcase in a costume. Meanwhile as he prepares to send Leo back to the past, Stuart falls down an elevator shaft and is hospitalized, leaving Leo to contend with 21st century enigmas such as toasters, answering machines, and career women. His return will have to be delayed, thus allowing him time to get to know Charlie, Kate, and this strange world a little better. Leo falls for Kate, despite her animosity, requisite evil rom-com jerk boss (Bradley Whitford), and sharp knees, but it will take more than just a tear in time and space to win this cynical chick over.

THE FINISHER:

Most of the time, Kate and Leopold is an amusing fish-out-of-water fantasy with an unabashedly and aggressively charming performance by Jackman. But at other times, it’s an overlong, hit-or-miss romantic comedy with initially interesting characters that finds a stride towards the end. The movie sways from the formulaic path of the rom-com thanks to the charisma and effort of Jackman, Ryan, and Schreiber. Despite looking rail thin and irritatingly screechy at the beginning, Ryan proves her title as rom-com icon and presents us with another cute as the dickens performance. Jackman as the ideal man no woman can resist is reasonably believable and his persona oozes magic and sophistication. There’s just no possible way you dislike the guy, even without the adamantium claws. Director James Mangold (Walk the Line, Cop Land) finds a balance between laughs and the mushy stuff and departs from heavy drama to make a light, breezy comedy with the feel of a fairy tale combined with an urban romance. So this movie is kind of OK and enjoyable. (Spoiler Alert) The ending left me a little hollow and concerned. While the title characters do get together in the end (Kate travels to Leopold’s time and reunites with him), I was bothered with something. Isn’t it a worse fate for Kate that she travel back to the 19th century to join her love, considering all the misogyny and rights that were denied to women at the time? Wasn’t she better off just sticking in her time and maybe visit Leo’s grave somewhere and chalking up her time with him as a nice memory? Also, neither had any money and would be broke. Also, Kate knows all about the future. Will she stay in bed with Leo all day long, or will she save the Archduke of Austria, kill baby Hitler, and invent the Twinkie? Hey Mr. Mangold – if you’re reading this (and curse you if you are not), I’ve got a pitch for you… Um, maybe not.

1 comment:

Warren said...

Hmmm...I like Wolverine and time travel, but the rest doesn't sound like me.

The worm hole seems like a rather large MacGuffin to ignore...even if it is a worm hole that only seems to go between two time periods.

I will be interested to see how your physical health is after these 28 days.