It’s Hugh Jackman week on the I Hate Critics Podcast in honor of Jackman’s new movie “Pan.” Here’s a look back at the first thing I ever wrote professionally about Hugh Jackman in the 2002 romantic comedy Kate & Leopold
There has been talk that the romantic comedy is a dying genre. The plots and conventions of the genre have become too familiar and many filmgoers are growing more pessimistic about on-screen romance. Kate & Leopold may not be the film to breath new life into this struggling genre but for what it is, a light little cookie of a film, it’s not bad.
You know your watching a romantic comedy when Meg Ryan comes on screen crinkling that cute button nose that screams, “Love me.” In this film she is the titular Kate, who is more concerned about getting ahead at her job in advertising than finding a meaningful relationship. Her last relationship was with a quirky scientist played by Liev Schreiber. Schreiber is trying to solve the puzzle of time travel so that he can travel through time to meet his great-great uncle Leopold (Hugh Jackman), an inventor who may hold the key to Liev’s scientific writer’s block.
After accomplishing time travel he accidentally brings Leopold back to the future with him. From there Kate meets Leopold who she assumes is some method actor. Leopold is immediately drawn to Kate but she, at first, just thinks he’s weird. There is something odd about him, he’s chivalrous and well mannered and well spoken. Very unusual for the modern male, but then as we already know he’s not modern at all.
The love story develops well and director James Mangold doesn’t let the film’s gimmicky premise get in the way of Ryan and Jackman’s wonderful chemistry. All great romantic comedy is based on the chemistry of the lead actors, as Ryan has shown with Tom Hanks and Billy Crystal previously.
In Kate & Leopold, Jackman shows himself a worthy replacement for Hanks. Jackman’s best work is in his willingness to humiliate himself while holding on to his Victorian era dignity. Jackman becomes a star right in front of our eyes, breaking out of the action genre and proving he can do just about anything as an actor, as he would later demonstrate in a brilliant hosting gig on SNL.
Ryan is her natural cute self in Kate & Leopold, which isn’t a bad thing. But there are moments where you can see she is beginning to tire of this kind of role. More than a couple times she looks outright bored by material that she has done more than a few times.Jackman and the very surprising comic turn by Schreiber save the film. Schreiber steals every scene he’s in with a goofy energy we haven’t seen from him before.
Kate & Leopold isn’t anything you haven’t seen before but as a Friday night rental to relax and watch with your girlfriend, it’s an enjoyable rent that will leave you smiling.
Sean gives this Movie 7 out of 10 stars –