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Citizen Critique-Kate & amp;amp; Leopold 

by Sophie Blaine

Whoever is marketing this film ought to know that I almost didn't go see it because the trailers made it look too syrupy, too 'chick flick,' too, well... Meg Ryan. In fact, that one line, where Meg rests her head on Hugh Jackman's broad chest and murmurs "I want more of this, more 1876" is just too much. I make vomiting sounds every time I hear it. But don't let the aggressive "romantic comedy" vibe scare you off. Kate & amp; Leopold is actually well-constructed, witty and beautiful to watch.

A 19th-century gentleman is unwittingly yanked into 21st-century Manhattan, where he must deal with such mysteries as television, automobiles, street crime and, of course, Ryan's edgy, smart career woman. Admittedly, the plot is as old and musty as Leopold's boot leather, but director/screenwriter James Mangold gives it a fresh swipe of sparkly polish. Many of his shots are visually stunning, the dialogue is laugh-out-loud clever (no doubt Carrie Fisher's contribution to the screenplay), and there's a refreshing restraint in the storytelling. Hugh Jackman is politeness personified, not in a creepy, Eddie Haskell sort of way, but rather in the tall-dark-and-handsome sense.

That's not to say it isn't flawed: the whole time travel scenario is loopy at best, Natasha Lyonne is underused as Kate's secretary and the slapstick elements involving Kate's ex-boyfriend are annoying and interminable. Still, the film's central premise -- that nice behavior (even that of another time) is an aphrodisiac -- works.

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