Sunday, 9 September 2007

Review: Kate & Leopold (2001)

I feel bad for women. They apparently have so little to look forward to in modern men that they'll attend films like "Kate and Leopold" so they can rediscover chivalry. Chivalry, of course, was that male behavior practiced at the turn of the 20th century where men of means stood when a woman left the table, opened the doors for them and regarded them as princesses 24/7.

In this time-travel movie, Stuart (Liev Schreiber) travels back to 1898 New York and brings the aristocratic Leopold (Hugh Jackman) back with him to modern day New York. This turns out to be great for his ex-girlfriend, Kate McKay (Meg Ryan), because Kate has terrible luck with men and is looking for somebody exactly like Leopold, a man with manners. Most of the men in her life are boorish slobs. There's Stuart, of course. Then there's her brother, Charlie (Breckin Meyer), and her boss, J.J. (Bradley Whitford), who's hitting on her as a condition of her promotion. Until Leopold comes along, Kate is all about her career and simply doesn't have time for love.

Indeed, all of Kate and Leopold's interactions are predictably wonderful. Leopold says beautiful things to her, cooks for her, pulls her chair out, and acts the gentleman every second of every day. After all, this was exactly what being a guy in 1898 was all about, right? Fortunately for Kate, Stuart didn't drag back a factory laborer who slaved away 12 hours a day, was missing most of his teeth, and had an expected life span of about 45 years. Apparently director James Mangold cut the scene where Leopold tries to squeeze Kate into a corset and accidentally breaks a few of her ribs. Oh, and then there was the scene where Kate tries to go vote in a local election and Leopold beats her in the middle of the street for attempting to violate the law.

Once again, nostalgia emerges victorious over the actual facts. Ultimately, this movie suggests that women would be happier if they fled the business world and dropped out of sight into the arms of a big, strong man. After all, if Kate were to go back to 1898 New York, isn't that exactly what would happen?

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