"Kate & Leopold," a flawed time-travel love story, benefits from Meg Ryan's reliable perkiness and establishes Australia's Hugh Jackman as a potent romantic leading man. These and other pluses, however, cannot overcome the film's inability to come alive for a full hour and 20 minutes. A couple of last-minute nips and tucks, reducing the running time by five minutes, were astute but not enough to save the day, especially since the material is far from original in the first place. "Kate & Leopold" is more ambitious but less successful than either the unabashedly romantic "Somewhere in Time" or the fanciful "Time After Time."
Jackman's Leopold, the freethinking Duke of Albany, is attending the 1876 celebration marking the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge when a flurry of confounding circumstances plunge him into present-day Manhattan, understandably mystified by being thrust 125 years into the future. He finds himself in the apartment of the brilliant and intense Stuart (Liev Schreiber), whose grasp of meteorology has led him to discover "portals" within the flow of time--windows between the past and present. Stuart is the ex-boyfriend of his upstairs neighbor, Ryan's Kate McKay, a hard-driving, success-oriented marketing executive. Predictably, there will be a spark between Leopold and Kate, but 80 minutes is too long to wait for it to catch fire. This needless delay on the part of director James Mangold and co-writer Steven Rogers is compounded at the outset of the film by a lack of clarity on how the time travel gimmick works. The combination of these two serious detractions is strong enough to nullify the contributions of a fine cast, some smart dialogue and superior production values.
This is unfortunate, because "Kate & Leopold" deftly makes the point that even the most successful woman can be warmed by old-fashioned male chivalry. This handsome Miramax presentation finds the protean Schreiber deserving better and Ryan marking time. Coming out ahead, in addition to Jackman's delightful charmer who manages to make old-fashioned values and moral principals seem relevant, is Breckin Meyer as Ryan's likable kid brother.
MPAA rating: PG-13, for brief strong language. Times guidelines: suitable for mature older children.
'Kate & Leopold'
Meg Ryan ... Kate McKay
Hugh Jackman ... Leopold
Liev Schreiber ... Stuart Besser
A Miramax Films presentation of a Konrad Pictures production. Director James Mangold. Producer Cathy Konrad. Executive producers Kerry Orent, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Meryl Poster. Screenplay Mangold and Steven Rogers; from a story by Rogers. Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh. Editor David Brenner. Music Rolfe Kent. Costumes Donna Zakowska. Production designer Mark Friedberg. Art director Jess Gonchor. Set decorator Stephanie Carroll. Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes.
In general release.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times