Kate and Leopold
Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
Better than Average
1 hr. 58.
Year of Release:
December 25, 2001
Courtship and Dating
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.
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.