Romantic comedy starring Hugh Jackman as a 19th century nobleman who finds love in 21st century New York. Mysteriously transported from 1876 to the dawn of the second millennium, Leopold, Duke of Albany (Jackman), meets market researcher Kate (Meg Ryan) and agrees to serve as a spokesperson for the brand of margarine her company is promoting. A romance soon begins to bloom between the two of them, but time is short, for Leopold will soon need to return to his own time.
On its theatrical release, James Mangold's romantic comedy Kate & Leopold
was rightly panned for holes in the logic of its time-travel plot. Stewart (Liev Schreiber) finds a portal to 1876 and goes to observe his ancestor Leopold, Duke of Albany (Hugh Jackman) who then follows him back to 2001. Since Leopold is responsible for inventing a key component in lifts, this instantly causes problems.
The gallant Leopold charms, and is charmed by Stewart's ex, Kate (Meg Ryan), a hard-boiled cynical marketing expert who finds in Victorian idealism a corrective to her view of the world. And this is part of the problem with the film--we cannot entirely believe in Meg Ryan as a cynic, or that her problems can be resolved by going off to 1876 to be with her aristocratic sweetie, and much of the film has an oddly sour hostility to its heroine. Hugh Jackman is a delight in the fish-out-of-water scenes and Breckin Meyer is also very funny as Kate's actor brother, who assumes Leopold is a colleague sunk deep into the creation of a part.
On the DVD Kate and Leopold has crisp Dolby 5:1 sound, which allows the very different acoustics of the two historical periods to be neatly contrasted, and is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen. We get both the theatrical and Director's cut, both offered with commentary, though the Director's cut audio track is more polemical. The Director's cut restores some expository material and makes more sense. --Roz Kaveney