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.
Now imagine 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 Kate (Meg Ryan), an ambitious businesswoman who has been unlucky in love, and Leopold (Hugh Jackman), a 19th-century duke who must marry to restore his family's fortune. The current pool of bachelorettes from his own time don't appeal to him.
Stuart Besser (Liev Schreiber), Leopold's great-great-grandson, travels back in time from the 21st century to 1876 via a time portal to document some of Leo's papers in their element. Leopold is suspicious of Stuart and pursues him back to the 21st century by accident. (It was a literal accident.) He is forced to stay in Stuart's apartment, where he meets Kate, who was Stuart's girlfriend until a month prior and still lives in the floor below... She doesn't trust Leopold at first — after all, she met him at Stuart's. But her brother Charlie returns home while she's at work and befriends him, ensuring they stay in contact. Romance ensues.
There are complications. No one in the 21st century believes Leopold is the Duke of Albany, and he is too honorable a man to make a story that anyone will believe. Oh, and Leopold is the inventor of the elevator, but hadn't invented it yet when he chased Stuart. Thus, all the elevators start malfunctioning as soon as Leopold hits the present. Stuart is the victim of a severe elevator accident, and so is sidelined for most of the film desperately trying to deliver important messages — a problem made worse because these messages all involve time travel.
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.
- Dance Party Ending: Kate and Leopold share a dance in the midst of the party held by his uncle. Cue the credits.
- Delayed Ripple Effect: The elevators get all weird and non-functional when Leopold, inventor of the elevator, is transported to the 21st century.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: A mild example; Leopold refers to Kate's market research job as a "fine avocation for a woman" and does not realize how condescending and sexist that sounds in the 21st century.
- 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.
- Flower Motifs: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 the Kate's boss speaks French fluently so he says something in French to show that the man doesn't know what he's talking about. Then Leopold says that he doesn't know that much French actually so he had probably said the only line in French that he knows.
- Has a Type: Upon hearing of Kate's profession of market research, Leopold says that research is perfect for the feminine mind and he himself once courted a librarian in Sussex.
- 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 is trying 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.
- I Gave My Word: Marriage is the promise of eternal love and as a man of honor, Leopold can not promise eternally what he has never felt momentarily.
- Impoverished Patrician: Leopold has no money, 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 that a person just needs to do.
- Knight in Shining Armor:
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. When you run, I shall ride, when you stop, the steel of this strap shall be lodged in your brain.
- Imagine the look on a purse-snatcher's face when Leo rides him down on horseback.
[bag snatcher throws down the bag and flees, 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."
- 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.
- Officer and a Gentleman: He's a duke who was trained in the King's Academy and schooled in weaponry by the palace guard.
- 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: ...so long that the policewoman doesn't believe that is Leopold's name and uses the name on that bill for Stuart.
- Paranormal Romance: A romance involving time travel.
- Prince Charming: Leopold writes the best apology letter in the history of mankind.
- Race for Your Love: As Stuart puts it, Kate has to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge in 23 minutes if she wants to see Leopold ever again. And then they have to face NY traffic. And then she has to run by her own to his mansion, before he proposes to another woman.
- Rebel Prince: Leopold says to his uncle that he is no duke because the new royals are men of accomplishment.
- Red String of Fate: As it turns out, Kate absolutely has to be with Leopold, if the history is going to happen as we know it. And in the original draft of the script, for Stuart to be even born.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: No, Leopold cannot stay in the present in the long run! Elevators will dissapear because you haven't invented them!
- 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.
- Stable Time Loop: It is implied that Leo's line wouldn't have continued successfully if he hadn't met Kate. (His old house is a school when he's in our present with Kate, but a proper mansion after he returns to his own time.) That wouldn't have happened if Stuart hadn't gone back in time and accidentally brought him to the present.
- Surprise Incest : A subplot deleted from the final film would have revealed that Stuart was actually Leopold's descendant. Due to the Stable Time Loop that occurs at the end of the film, this means that Kate is the mother of his children, accidentally leaving us with the very real possibility that Stuart dated his own grandmother for over two years.
- 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?: Our leady man and leading lady are split between centuries. Which one will they live in?