Imagine your future happiness is bound by fate to one man... a man who is dashing, handsome, and chivalrous, and who would do anything in his power to make you happy.
The only problem is he lived and died over a hundred years ago.
Directed by James Mangold (who co-wrote the screenplay with Steven Rogers), Kate & Leopold is a 2001 romantic comedy about Leopold (Hugh Jackman), a 19th-century Duke who must marry to restore his family's fortune and Kate (Meg Ryan), an ambitious 21st-century businesswoman who is focused on her career.
Stuart Besser (Liev Schreiber) travels back in time from the 21st century to 1876 via a time portal to view the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and investigate Leopold's invention of the elevator. Leopold is suspicious of Stuart and pursues him resulting in an accident that brings them both back to the 21st century.
After an unfortunate mishap involving an elevator, Stuart is hospitalized leaving Leopold alone in his apartment where he meets Kate, who lives on the floor below and is Stuart's ex-girlfriend. Then Kate's brother, Charlie returns and befriends Leopold ensuring constant contact with Kate.
Naturally, there are complications. Leopold is the Duke of Albany but is too honorable a man to make up a story about his origins. In addition, since Leopold left his time before he invented the elevator, all the elevators in New York start malfunctioning. Although he knows Leopold must return home to fix the space-time continuum, Stuart's ramblings about time travel while hospitalized result in his transfer to a mental hospital.
And thus hilarity and romance ensues.
This film provides examples of:
- Badass Longcoat : Leopold. Whether in his Victorian clothes or modern clothes, he wears a very cool looking, quite long coat.
- Butt-Monkey: Stuart falls down an elevator shaft after returning to New York, and for the next 2/3 of the film it just gets worse for him.
- Delayed Ripple Effect: Because Leopold is transported into the future before he invents the elevator, the elevators in the 21st century begin to breakdown and become non-functional.
- Double Entendre: "And in the future I believe men will be judged by the size of their erections!"
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Leopold is a nobleman from 19th century Albany in 21st century America. Downplayed in that Leopold is an inventor and spends his time being amazed and curious at the progress he sees instead of being terrified and confused.
- Flower Motifs: The Victorian practice of floriography is well known to Leopold and addressed directly when he helps Charlie pick out a bouquet for his upcoming date.Leopold: No, no, this will not do.
Charlie: Wha... Why? What is wrong with this one?
Leopold: The orange lily implies extreme hatred. The begonia and lavender danger and suspicion, respectively. Every flower has a meaning, Charles. Might I suggest the amaryllis, which declares the recipient a most splendid beauty. Or the cabbage rose.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: Leopold admires men of accomplishment and is working on inventing the elevator.
- Gratuitous French: Leopold hears Kate's boss, J.J. boast that he speaks French fluently and says something in French that reveals that the man doesn't know what he's talking about. Ironically, Leopold does not speak French fluently but quoted the line directly from an opera that J.J. had just boasted about seeing a dozen times.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Stuart just couldn't keep from chuckling at all the talk of erections.
- Horseback Heroism : Leo rides down a purse snatcher through Central Park on the back of a horse that he borrowed from a carriage ride.
- I Am One of Those, Too: Kate's boss JJ tries to impress her with tales of a centuries-old manor in England. Too bad Leopold is from that county and knows no such manor exists. JJ also tries faking familiarity with La Bohème, claiming that it taught him French; Leopold tries speaking French with him and watches him fail to respond, then embarrasses him again by pointing out that La Boheme isn't in French. (Leopold admits that his own French isn't good, but it's good enough to spot a phony.)
- I Gave My Word: Marriage is the promise of eternal love and, as a man of honor, Leopold wonders how he can promise eternally what he has never felt momentarily.
- Impoverished Patrician: Leopold's family is heavily in debt, which is why his uncle pressures him to marry a rich American. He complains about it in the beginning but in the end he understands that there are some things a person just needs to do.
- Knight in Shining Armor:
- After a purse-snatcher takes off with Kate's purse, Leo rides him down on horseback.Leopold: I warn you scoundrel, I was trained at the King's Academy and schooled in weaponry by the palace guard. You stand no chance. Where you run, I shall ride, when you stop, the steel of this strap shall be lodged in your brain.
[the thief throws down the bag and flees as onlookers applaud]
- Leopold believes that Kate requires a chaperone on her date with her boss so he offers to go with her to protect her from his obvious intentions. When she refuses he tells her boss, "Some feel that to court a woman in one's employ is nothing more than a serpentine effort to transform a lady to a whore."
- After a purse-snatcher takes off with Kate's purse, Leo rides him down on horseback.
- Mr. Fanservice: Leopold. Being portrayed by Hugh Jackman will do that to you
- Name and Name: He's Leopold and she's Kate and together their names make the title.
- Old-School Chivalry: The nobleman from 1876, who is accustomed to stand when a lady leaves the table, is often mocked for things like his idea of the culinary arts, but he does become more modern and learns that obligation will trump integrity. He also woos Kate with a moonlight dinner and dancing on the roof, breakfast the next morning, etc.
- Overly Long Name: Our protagonist, the 3rd Duke of Albany is so christened: Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Thomas Gareth Mountbatten.
- Paranormal Romance: A romance involving time travel.
- Prince Charming: Leopold writes the best apology letter in the history of mankind.
- Race for Your Love: In order to reunite with Leopold, Kate has 23 minutes to reach the Brooklyn Bridge. Of course, NY traffic is clogged forcing her to run on foot and then there's the girder over traffic she has to walk across in heels.
- Rebel Prince: Leopold says to his uncle that he is no duke because the new royals are men of accomplishment.
- Red String of Fate: In order to fix the space-time continuum, Kate has to go back to be with Leopold. The director's cut of the movie reinforces this because Stuart is the great-great grandson of Leopold and won't be born if Kate doesn't go back.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Kate says that Leopold's handsome, honest, courteous. Stands when you walk in a room. Brings you brioche in bed. She realizes that he is someone who came along who knew exactly what she wanted without asking.
- Surprise Incest: The original cut of the movie created an unfortunate relationship between some of the characters. Stuart was actually Leopold's descendant which means that Kate is his great-great grandmother and he was in a long-term relationship with her in the present for over two years. This situation was removed for the theatrical release but is still present in the director's cut.
- Tastes Like Feet: Leopold claims that the butter he's supposed to advertise tastes like saddle soap and raw suet.
- Time-Travel Romance: A romantic comedy with the leads from different centuries.
- Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Stuart has a hard time explaining things.
- White Stallion: That horse that Duke Leopold borrowed from a carriage ride just so happened to be white.
- Your Universe or Mine?: Kate and Leopold are split between centuries. However, because of the way the narrative unfolds, there is only one choice for how they can be together.