When Leopold, an 18th-century duke (and eventual inventor of the elevator), spots a man out of time, he gives chase and ends up falling through a portal to present-day New York City. The man is named Stuart (Liev Schreiber), a scientist who happened to discover a rip in the fabric of time and has used it to explore the past. Marketing executive Kate McKay (Meg Ryan) is his ex-girlfriend who also happens to live in the same apartment building as Stuart. Circumstances push Kate and Leopold together and despite their differences, an attraction blooms.
I won’t lie, I was pretty shocked when I saw that James Mangold directed this. James Mangold of Ford and Ferrari, Girl Interrupted, and Logan. Kate and Leopold does not come anywhere close to the quality of those films, although it’s pleasant enough for a mindless rom-com.
The story itself reminded me a lot of Enchanted, and while Hugh Jackman, like Amy Adams, is charming as the fish out of water royalty (or soon to be royalty), Kate and Leopold lacks the chemistry between its two leads that made Enchanted work so well. I have loved Meg Ryan in so many movies, but her performance here feels fairly flat. I found myself enjoying Leopold’s scenes with Stuart and Kate’s brother Charlie (Breckin Meyer) more than the ones he shared with Kate. Knowing that the role of Kate was initially meant for Sandra Bullock, I can’t help but wonder what if…
However, I’m not even sure Bullock could have saved the movie. I have watched enough rom-coms to know that a suspension of belief is required for most of them. I am able to buy into even the most ridiculous plots if there’s enough charm, comedy, and romantic heat to distract me from them. Unfortunately, there are just too many contrived moments and obvious plot holes that I found it difficult to focus on anything else. If there had been more chemistry between Kate and Leopold, if it wasn’t so predictable, then maybe I wouldn’t have minded the silliness of it all. There was just simply no way that I could believe Kate would leave everything behind, her job and brother, to go back in time to the 18th century just to be with Leopold, even if he does look like Hugh Jackman.
Speaking of Jackman, he’s the only reason to watch this movie. He takes what would have been a bland, preposterous role, and instead presents Leopold as incredibly affable and charismatic. Hugh Jackman is why I enjoyed this movie on any level. I really wish he would do another rom-com. So if you’re a big Hugh Jackman fan, go ahead and give this a shot. Otherwise, I’d say steer clear of Kate and Leopold. If you want a romantic fish out of water movie, go with Enchanted.