Taking “Love is a Leap” a Bit Literally

Kate and Leopold

A rom-com from 2001 starring Meg Ryan (I like her in You’ve Got Mail, opposite Tom Hanks) as Kate, and Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Australia) as Leopold. Hugh faces off with Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed/Sabertooth from X-Men: Wolverine) who plays Stuart. Leopold’s valet, Otis is played by Philip Bosco, who was the servant Vincenzo in It Takes Two with the Olsen twins (I loved that movie as a kid).

The main premise of the movie is that Leopold is from the nineteenth century and due to time travel, ends up meeting Kate in twenty-first century New York City. It opens in 1876 with the dedication of the East River Bridge, better known as the Brooklyn bridge. Leopold spots an odd man in the crowd, but loses him. Only to find him at a ball in his home later that night. Leopold’s uncle is forcing his nephew, the Duke of Albany, to choose a bride, preferably wealthy. Leopold does not like this ultimatum; he does not like being an aristocrat, he admires inventors more. Leopold follows the strange man again, ending up on top of the not-yet-finished bridge. They fall…through time. Kate is introduced as the strange man, Stuart’s downstairs neighbor, and ex-girlfriend. She hears thumping upstairs and investigates. Stuart makes her leave. Come morning, she barges in and meets Leopold, who is very confused by everything around him.

Stuart has to take his dog for a walk, only to discover that the elevators are not working…because Leopold is supposed to invent them, but by coming forward in time, he has not invented them yet. We meet Kate’s boss, JJ at the market research office; Kate is interested in him, but JJ is a bit demeaning. He thinks he is complimenting Kate when he says she is more like a man than a woman. Kate’s brother, Charlie arrives and meets Leopold. They spend a pleasant afternoon talking about Pirates of Penzance. Kate is not impressed when she gets home, especially to find out that Charlie has invited Leopold to dinner. No one, aside from Stuart, who is now laid up at the hospital, believe that Leopold is actually a duke from the nineteenth century. Leopold and Kate butt heads over differences in etiquette and Kate has to help Leopold out the following morning.

Then she gets an idea; he should read for the commercial she is overseeing. And he is a hit, turning on the aristocratic charm. Kate comes to believe Leopold’s history when he chases down a thief in Central Park on a horse. Leopold helps Charlie get a date that evening while Kate dines with JJ, hoping for a promotion. Charlie, who is a bit drunk, crashes his sister’s date and Leopold catches JJ in several lies and demonstrates his class and knowledge. Leopold later writes an apology letter to Kate for embarrassing her. Her assistant talks her into a romantic dinner with Leopold. This leads to a dance, and then a kiss.

The couple spends Saturday together, even visiting Leopold’s home which is now a museum of sorts. Leopold is obviously in love with Kate. Sunday brings the commercial,kate_leopold which hits a snag when Leopold actually tastes the “fresh creamery butter” and discovers it to be horrible. Kate tells him that sometimes, you have to do things you don’t want to do, despite your morals. Afterwards, she informs Leopold, they’re kidding themselves. He has to go back (another time portal will open). He goes through with it. Kate gets her promotion. Then Charlie and Stuart notice that Kate was in Stuart’s pictures from 1876. They persuade her to jump off the Brooklyn bridge in order to join Leopold. It works and Leopold names her as his bride at the same ball.

Not my favorite rom-com, though I’m not really a rom-com girl. Characterization is pretty flat, though it’s fun to see Hugh Jackman as a proper duke. The film plays off the idea that we want guys with those kind of manners…which, yes. But they don’t fall off a bridge and out of time for us.

Up Next: Dirty Dancing

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