KATE & LEOPOLD
Playing opposite her is Australian actor Hugh Jackman. Jackman caught the whole worlds attention with his captivating performance as Wolverine in X-Men (2000). Since he was hailed as the latest hottest thing, Jackmans career delivered less than the promise it was initially celebrated with, with dire choices like the inane Ashley Judd romantic vehicle Someone Like You (2001) and Jackmans appearance in what must be the silliest scene of the same year that this came out the gun-to-the-head and blowjob hack-in scene in Swordfish (2001) and then even more absurd Van Helsing (2004). Kate & Leopold was one film at east until he started to recover in the 2010s that allowed Jackman to shine with that initial promise again. In fact, he does so so sublimely that he completely overshadows Ryan. She seems to be just going through the paces she did in earlier films and is only playing off Jackmans presence. At the age of 40, she is starting to seem a little old for playing the role of the lonely single woman again. Even Breckin Meyer from Road Trip (2000) manages to upstage Ryan with a funny performance as her wannabe actor brother, as does Natasha Lyonne in her few scenes as Megs nervous secretary.
All the science-fiction content in Kate & Leopold has been deliberately pushed to the side explanations are only there only in so far as the film needs to set its premise up and no more. The rest of the film comes in the playing off of the single premise of the comedic potential of Hugh Jackmans old-fashioned, perfectly chivalric manners. The story travels in easily predictable areas, with characters all performing obvious functions but the humour is played with likeable charm by director James Mangold and carried off to perfection by Jackman. In a time when populist cinema was dominated by the crass vulgarity and dumbass knocks of the Wayans, Weitz and Farrelly Brothers, a film that appeals to an old-fashioned ideal of gentlemanly courtesy seems just that bit more welcome. It is of course a fantasy of chivalry, one that requires one not to ask too many real world questions of it like how the Dukes impoverished family finances will survive after he announces at the end that he is going to marry Meg Ryan who appears not to have travelled back through time with any money of her own, or indeed ask about the culture shock she might encounter living in a considerably less sexually liberated, less hygienic and, despite what the film might think, much more repressive and socially conservative era. For all that, it is hard not to go out of the film inspired to wanting to be just that bit more genteel, chivalric and courteous in ones everyday life.
James Mangold had previously directed the likes of Cop Land (1997) and the overhyped Girl, Interrupted (1999). He subsequently went onto make slasher/psycho-thriller Identity (2003), Walk the Line (2005), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Knight and Day (2010) and again directed Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine (2013) and Logan (2017). He also acts as executive producer on the animals attack tv series Zoo (2015-7).
(Winner for Best Actor (Hugh Jackman) at this sites Best of 2001 Awards).