Call it a modern romantic fable if you like, while “Kate & Leopold” does indulge in some time travel it remains strictly in light entertainment fantasy mode. Meg Ryan has become such a stable of this genre that her performances are pretty much locked into a successful formula which again is shown off here.
She pulls off her scenes well and remains a very likable romantic lead, however the chemistry is always the thing and that’s what Jackman brings to this little adventure. Jackman has always had a solid stage/theatrical background which lends itself to this upper crust snooty character, whilst his sheer charisma and likability – combined with the character’s warmth and manners as time goes on, make him one of the easiest romantic leads to ‘fall for’ in a while. Schreiber, Meyer, Lyonne and Whitford lend decent, if somewhat unremarkable support.
As this is a light fable, the story remains strictly cheery and safe for the whole family. Despite a cute 20th century gag in the past involving a camera, the setup is kind of awkward at first but things progress smoothly throughout the majority before coming to a predictable, if somewhat muddily executed end. Mangold does a fine job in the director’s chair, and the various ‘past’ scenes ring with a quite rich visual style and tone – but the script is still squarely in Mills & Boon territory whilst the laughs are more the occasional giggle than anything actually funny. In the end its a puff piece, a light piece of escapism which the girls will love & guys can sit through without squirming much.
The big feature of this disc is that it can play both the original and a ‘Directors Cut’ version of the film. The two are actually very similar barring some trimming of the details of Kate’s job (a shame as the humour is kind of pointed at both the movie industry and Meg Ryan herself), a family connection between Stuart and Leopold (which is icky in an incest sense), and a brief shot in the opening sequence which kind of spoils a big part of the movie. Nevertheless it holds up better as a film than the original cut.