Kate & Leopold (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

SPOILERS: (Note: these comments apply to the director's cut. I didn't watch the theatrical version)

This film has one of the stranger time-travel paradoxes in film history. See if you can follow:

  • Liev Schreiber plays an inventor in our era who finds a way to cross the gate of time into the past.
  • He brings his great-great grandfather (Hugh Jackman) back to the present, and gramps falls in love with his girlfriend (Meg Ryan).
  • His girlfriend follows gramps back into the past and becomes his wife.

Now do you see the problem? Meg Ryan goes back into the past and becomes Liev Schreiber's great-great grandma. So, before Meg fell in love with Jackman, she was fucking her own great-great grandson! It's time travel incest.

Even scarier is the possibility that she was already pregnant by Liev when she went back into the past. In that case, Liev is his own great-great-grandfather, and Jackman was just some guy in a doorman suit.

If course, it all seems to make sense somehow, because Meg Ryan is old enough to be Schreiber's or Jackman's grandmother.

(For the literal minded, Meg was actually born in 1961, Jackman 1968, Schreiber 1967)

Oh, well, time-travel movies never make sense, do they?

When Liev's girlfriend and grandpa fall in love, it's kind cool, actually. If you don't think about it too much.


Hugh Jackman is a very talented guy. As Wolverine, he showed he could command the screen as an action anti-hero. As The Duke of Albany, he demonstrates that he is on the a-list of romantic leads. He's more elegant than Pitt, younger than Brosnan, a better actor than either of them. I suppose most of us would trade places with this lucky stiff.

One thing about this film disappointed me. Jackman walks around New York one day, dressed in his 1876 clothing, looking like the doorman at the Waldorf. Real New Yorkers would have given him a serious rash of shit, but the screenwriter took no advantage of the potential humor in the situation. The New York police officer, after Jackman refused to clean up his dog's poop, simply smiled and handed him a citation. Talk about leaving valuable chips on the table!

If you like Meg Ryan romantic comedies, this will deliver about what you expect. On the Meg scale, it is not as good as When Harry met Sally, but I think probably deserves the #2 or #3 spot, ahead of the lesser lights like You've Got Mail, City of Angels, and French Kiss.

I think that the beauty of When Harry Met Sally is that there is something for the guys. The romantic male lead is a real guy whose dialogue and thoughts consist of things men really say and do. In fact, the contrast between the thought processes of men and women frames the movie. K&L's male star, on the other hand, is a romantic fantasy, not a real guy. Meg's brother and the ex-boyfriend are comic devices - your basic nebbishes who are in there to give women a cheap laugh - the way they always do when a male movie character gets lost because he fails to ask for directions. Therefore, there is no real male-oriented humor or POV. This film is cute, but not "real", and that makes it a chick-flick rather than a film that is equally enjoyable for both sexes. It is more comparable to Sleepless in Seattle than to When Harry met Sally

Here is the Meg Ryan romantic movie scorecard at IMDb:

Meg movies male score female score differential
When Harry Met Sally 7.6 7.9 .3
Kate & Leopold 6.4 7.3 .9
Sleepless in Seattle 6.6 7.2 .6
You've Got Mail 6.2 6.9 .7
City of Angels 6.1 6.6 .5
French Kiss 6.1 6.9 .8

DVD info from Amazon

Commentary by director James Mangold
Original Theatrical Version and Director's Cut
Deleted Scenes With Commentary
"On The Set" Featurette
Sting "Until" Music Video
Photo Gallery
Costume Featurette
Widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85

If you want to see the male-female analysis expanded to non-Meg movies, go here, in which I discuss the best date movies.

Among the Meg Classics, K&L has the largest male-female differential, so beware! It has the same .9 differential as some films on my estrogen list (found at the link above). It is still a fairly good date movie, however, because men rate it a watchable 6.4/10 at IMDb, while women like it a lot (7.3).

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3/4, filmcritic.com 4/5

  • General UK consensus: one and a half stars. Daily Mail 4/10, Daily Telegraph 6/10, Independent 4/10, The Guardian 2/10, The Observer 4/10, The Times 2/10, Evening Standard 2/10, The Sun 5/10, The Express 4/10, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 6.5/10, Guardian voters 6.6/10
  • with their dollars: a disappointment. Budget $48 million, domestic gross $47 million


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Solid well-performed romantic comedy, the appeal of which skews to females, ala Sleepless in Seattle.

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