Whether it's Marty McFly fending off the advances of his mom in Back To The Future or The Terminator's Kyle Reese giving Sarah Connor a dose of futuristic rumpy pumpy, time travel movies often have a sprinkling of sex. But while these sci-fi flicks spiced up their storylines with some century-hopping slap and tickle, Kate&Leopold uses the theme to try and kiss life into a rather tired rom-com.
Playing the kind of witty, mannered role that would usually go to Rupert Everett, Hugh Jackman is Leopold, a 19th-century New York duke who dives through a portal into the present day Big Apple. Bringing his outdated, but awfully attractive, good manners with him, it's not long before he falls for advertising exec Kate (Meg Ryan) - - who's just desperate for a little bit of old-fashioned romance.
Sounds good, eh? After all, Hugh is one of the hottest new hunks in Hollywood and Meg, bless her, is the undisputed queen of rom-coms. Sadly, writer-director James Mangold saddles them with such a silly plot there's no time to relax and let the chemistry flow. Even worse, Ryan seems to have misplaced her kooky, lovable persona. Perhaps her offscreen relationship dramas have taken their toll, for what emerges is a brittle, not particularly likeable turn - a wounded person trying hard to play happy.
One more thing: we know she's sexually frustrated and he's English, but shouldn't there be at least a hint of hanky panky? Swapping sex for manners is all very well, but a little frisson goes a long way, and would Leo really adapt to modern day NY in a few days? Would career woman Kate really contemplate jumping back in time to the late 1800s - - an era when women didn't have the vote, let alone careers, and...
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Hugh Jackman's fish-out-of-water bumblings hold some appeal, but the stars don't spark and the plot has more holes than New York's space-time continuum.