Movie Review

Kate and Leopold

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 58.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
December 25, 2001
Relevant Issues
Meg Ryan in “Kate and Leopold”
Featuring: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Bradley Whitford, Natasha Lyonne
Director: James Mangold
Producer: Cathy Konrad
Distributor: Miramax Films
Hugh Jackman in “Kate and Leopold”

Chivalry is the belief and practice of knights in the Middle Ages and even today. Chivalry was a code of ethics upheld by noble landholders and/or knights who were influenced by Christianity. The chivalric knight was loyal, courteous, protective, and gentle and honorable to all, including enemies. Knights sought love and glory, but not selfishly—rather for his Lady and King first. Knights were courageous, humble, obedient, and chaste. Knights lived by three things: courage, honor, and fidelity. Since knights devoted themselves to the Virgin Mary, this is probably where their worshipful attitudes toward women came about. Women were literally treated as queens by chivalric men. They were respectful, worshipful, and reverent toward women. To a knight, love and war was the ultimate sacrifice. Knights upheld their lady’s every “whim or desire”, no matter what the cost, even if it meant death.

It may be interesting to note that “Kate and Leopold” is a Christmas release, for it was during this season that boys were usually dubbed into knighthood. The practice of courting, too, has been a vital part of the Judeo-Christian culture for thousands of years. Many of the grandparent age will remember this process. A woman was never unchaperoned during this form of dating. A couple would get to know each other in the safety of social and family gatherings. In courtship, both individuals have the understanding that marriage is the eventual goal of the relationship. Courtship takes a more thoughtful, long-term approach to a premarital relationship. The emphasis is on developing friendships and seeking compatibility in ones future mate. Courtship doesn’t actually begin until each feels that the other person could be a perspective marriage partner. Their time together is spent getting to know each other better through conversation and group socialization, rather than sexual intimacy. This old-fashioned idea is currently gaining a following among singles looking for smarter ways of tying the knot and keeping it tied.


Courtship and Dating

» What are the Biblical guidelines for dating relationships?

» What is true love and how do you know when you have found it?

» Resource (DVD):
Sex, Love and Relationships

This latest entry from Miramax films focuses on these old fashioned ideas of chivalry and courting. It mixes into the plot pot the vehicle of time travel (which always gets my attention). You do however get the 2001 Miramax romantic movie formula (“Serendipity,” “On the Line”) with a twist (some lemons included). This time instead of “boy meets girl and boy loses girl and boy tries desperately to find girl” we have “girl meets boy, girl eventually loses boy, and girl realizes that she wants to find boy.” As Miramax is the producer of all three films mentioned here, one might think they have a patented formula. (The best example of this storyline is still “Serendipity”.) What spoils this flic is the casual presence of alcohol, tobacco, profanity, several religious expletives, and some double innuendos thrown in for extra measure.

“Kate and Leopold” reads like a cheap dime-store Harlequin romance novel. Kate (Meg Ryan) is the ambitious advertising executive. Ms. Ryan, in some recent interviews, has joked about getting into a 12-step program to recover from always being cast in romantic comedies. Director James Mangold was convinced that she was the one for the role of Kate. I must confess that, in spite of all the flaws and obvious inconsistencies present, this is the best romantic comedy that I have seen Meg Ryan in.

We find Kate still recovering from a four-year relationship with Stuart (Liev Schreiber). She is bitter and disappointed. Stuart is a tireless explorer and has found a crack in the fabric of time. The film opens with some wonderful scenes of Stuart observing Leopold (Hugh Jackman), who just happens to be the Third Duke of Albany, in the year 1876. Hugh Jackman does an outstanding job in delivering the persona of a gentleman. Leopold follows Stuart to the future and begins to discover modern day New York. Leopold’s temporary love problems are put on hold. He is being forced by his family to help stimulate the economy by taking a bride for money. Can these two disappointed lovers find true and blissful happiness in each other? I think you can guess the outcome. I did like Leopold’s concern over Kate not being chaperoned on dates and her curfew. Brekin Meyer turned in a decent performance as Kate’s quirky live-in brother.

I do recommend this film in spite of its obvious flaws and the above-mentioned cautions. It is a better-than-average date movie. The film does focuses on human relationships rather than the common Hollywood path of sex. It never hurts for singles to learn more about “courting”and we married men to be reminded to be courteous to our wives.


Viewer Comments
Positive—My wife and I, who love romantic comedies, went with great anticipation after reading the reviews given on this site. We were only slightly disappointed with the movie as a whole. The plot has some holes in it, as my wife said a number of times, the movie gave us no reason at all why Leopold should be attracted to Kate at first. Maybe we were just supposed to assume that since Meg Ryan was playing Kate that was enough? The reasons why Kate would be attracted to Leopold were obvious—a gentleman in every sense of the word, refined, concerned for the welfare of women, romantic, polite, and of course, handsome. We would have also liked to have seen more of Leopold’s influence on and his interaction with modern day New York/world. The scenes with the police woman and the toaster were great but we wanted more, but Hollywood doesn’t believe that we can sit through plot development in a romantic comedy. Overall, we enjoyed the movie, but not the 17.50 we paid. Its better seen at the matinee, or wait for the DVD to come out and possibly see some scenes that were deleted to shorten the film.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Michael Glatz, age 44
Positive—Kate and Leopold shows the contrast between how men are today, and how they acted back when Leopold lived. it’s a great movie in that it shows how girls should really be treated. we’d recommend it to any guys who really want to learn how to be a true gentleman, and to see how we ladies should be treated-like princesses!
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Erin and Mandy, age 14 and 15
Positive—Husbands, BEWARE! You might just learn how a truly Christian man should treat a lady! 1 Peter 3:7 is truly lived out in Loepold’s actions.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—C. Wayne Williams, age 47
Positive—I felt this movie was a bright spot in the darkness that is so popular in movies today. My only objection was to the unnecessary foul language. The positives were that true love prevailed over Kate’s desire for position and salary. Leopold was a true gentleman, treating all characters, whether male or female, with honor and respect. Kate’s heart is softened by Leopold’s “for real-ness” and is won over by his charm and honesty. Truth and honor are fought for and stood up for in the face of dishonest gain and ignoble goals. There was not even a hint of illicit sex and the only sensuality are the few kissing scenes. I highly recommend this movie!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Jennie Wilson, age 28
Positive—I have to agree with what I’ve read so far from other reviewers. I think we all could have done without the few instances of offensive language. it’s very sad when they have a wonderful movie and then they have to add the “obligatory” scenes of someone taking Jesus Christ’s name in vain to make it more “modern” or “realistic.” If that’s the case, I’d rather be old-fashioned and fake. *grin* The ending seemed to have some annoying plot holes due to the way the time travel paradox was handled, but it’s a fun movie and, in spite of the strange paradox and the few instances of offensive language, I highly recommend it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—David Goldfield, age 35
PositiveMeg Ryan’s character, Kate, was funny and sweet as usual. There were some parts when my friends and I laughed out loud. We laughed especially hard when Leopold’s manners disagreed with our culture’s typical feministic approach to life. However, I don’t think the movie was very logical. The end of the movie was somewhat confusing because of the whole time travel concept. If you want to go see this movie turn off your brain and simply enjoy watching the antics of the characters in this movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—N.J., age 20
Positive—Overall, this time-travel fantasy is excellent. The characters are well developed, and likeable. While there may be some objection to a few instances of language, the movie, as a whole, is clean-cut and carries a wholesome message about treating others with respect and honesty. Leopold’s manners are not mocked or scorned by the writers, but seen as something noble—something the world could use more of. Many movies fall flat in the end, but I found this ending to be a satisfying conclusion to a very enjoyable two hours.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Bill Holmes, age 49
Positive—I think this movie was very cute! There were a few parts where there was some questionable language, not very much but it was still noticeable. I thought this movie was a good romantic comedy, definitely a chick flick. I think this would be a great movie for everyone ages twelve and older.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Katie P., age 15
Positive—I went to “Kate and Leopold” with my sister and her friend. I can’t really tell you what I think of the dialogue because I’m deaf. But I certainly enjoyed the acting. Hugh Jackman did a great job being a gentleman. I liked the 19th century clothes (costumes) in this movie. There was a lot of people in the viewing room, almost full. In the audience, there was large range in age, young children to elderly people. “Kate and Leopold” may be a little chick-flicky but it is not stupid and low in morals like many other chick flicks. I think my dad, who dislike chick flicks, would enjoy “Kate and Leopold”. What are you waiting for? Take your friends or family to this one. Just don’t jump off any bridges.
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
—Zanny, age 16
Positive—This is one of those rare movies that lifts the spirit and brings a big smile to the heart. Other than a few instances of strong language (mainly the “sh” word…), there was nothing objectionable in the whole film. I took my 84 year old mother (who rarely enjoys a secular movie because of all the “unnecessary parts”) and she even enjoyed this movie (after pointing out that the language was “totally unnecessary” :) This is a film that I would recommend to almost anyone (and I am very choosy) My 9 and 12 year old sons would have liked this movie. It was obvious from the hearty laughter of the audience that they enjoyed it, too. A definite “must have” when it comes out on DVD!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Romaine, age 47
Positive—I loved this movie. Hugh Jackman and Meg Ryan are a BIG hit. I can’t wait to buy it. If you want to see a good love story where they didn’t show anyone sleeping together, and very little bad words, then watch this movie. I thought it was like a fairy tale of a love story.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Crystal, age 20
Positive—One of the best, clean love stories ever! Very clean, and a good example of how a gentleman should treat a lady. don’t know how it earned the PG-13 rating—only brief language. Very worth your money, time, and energy!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jina Bob
Positive—This is a “do not try this at home” romantic comedy featuring Meg Ryan in her typical cast type and Hugh Jackman as his usual romantic and charming self. The wrinkle in time that brings these two together is accessed by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge! Leopold is indeed quite chivalrous, which may inspire the men who get dragged to this film to buck up on their general manners, however women need to realize also that this movie is not meant to be real! :-) So there is some give and take on the message. It was a nice, entertaining chick flick which could have been better without the scattering of cuss words. Overall, it’s a cute movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Lori, age 27
Neutral—Had a few moments. Poor plot. Kate is unlikable. Can’t figure out why Leopold likes her. Can’t figure out why they fall in love. I give it a neutral (not a negative) because Leopold is a hoot. I liked The Count of Monte Cristo MUCH better.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Ranee, age 33
Movie Critics
…a delightful, fun, romantic movie… which stresses truth, honesty, chivalry, and honor…
—Lisa Rice, Movieguide