Back in the late 1980s and early 90s there was a big trend in romantic books with sci-fi themes coming out. Well, just like movies, book trends come and go. Now we are seeing vampires as the the big draw, but who knows what might be the next big thing? James Mangold decided to take one of those great tales from the 80s/90s and bring it to the big screen in 2001, hence the bad fashions and weed-whacker haircuts you’ll see on the screen, but the story itself is lots of fun, and not too serious. It’s just the breath of fresh air you might need after a crazy week of work.
At the beginning of the film, we see Stuart Besser (Liev Schreiber) as he is going around New York in the 1870s. Things look very brownstone, and the Brooklyn Bridge is in the process of being built. While he is at a reception at the bridge, he takes pictures with a tiny, very 21st century camera. He laughs every time the bridge designer refers to the great walkway at an “erection”. This irks another man in the crowd, Leopold (Hugh Jackman), a British nobleman whom has come to New York to find a rich bride to save his family’s name and fortune.
A few hours later, at a dance party in his uncle’s home, Leopold sees Stuart again. Leopold is wanting to get out of naming a bride and having to marry for all the wrong reasons. He leaves the party and follows Stuart back to the bridge. What he does not know is that Stuart has discovered an unstable wormhole through time connecting 1876 to 2001. Stuart flees to catch a ride back to his home, but Leopold follows him. Now the dashing nobleman is a stranger in a very strange land, but somehow, he manages to adapt, but not quickly at first. Also, Leopold is a streampunk-era inventor, and it was he whom created an efficient pulley system for the elevators.
While Leopold is stuck in Manhattan of 2001, everywhere around him, once perfectly working elevators break down, and all the repairmen in the city can’t seem to fix them. Also, Stuart has an ex-girlfriend that lives above him, Kate McKay (Meg Ryan). Kate is an executive at a market research firm, and her whole life is about finding out what makes people want to buy things. Currently, she is looking for the perfect pitchman for some kind of low-calorie margarine spread,Farmer’s Bounty, that supposedly tasty enough to make the consumer think it is like creamery butter. Once she meets Leopold and learns what exactly what he is, yet still has a hard time accepting it, she still find him to be the man to sell this buttery diet spread.
Leopold really does not care for the way things have changed over the century in regards to etiquette, and does tend to still love things the way he lived them, as with the Central Park Carriage rides, and treating every woman like the lady she has the potential to be. He wins over the hearts and minds of most everyone he encounters, including Kate’s younger brother, Charlie (Breckin Meyer). Charlie learns all kinds of wonderful things from this man out of time, and uses his new-found knowledge to win over the girl of his dreams. What Charlie does not know, is that his independent sister is falling for Leopold, and Leopold feels the same way.
Between waking one morning to the sound of hard rock music and the barking of Stuart’s dog, to deciding that there must be truth in advertising, and that he will no way try to sell the swill that is Farmer’s Bounty, Leopold attempts to get hold of Stuart to find his way back. Stuart has been having his own weird adventure in trying to bring Leopold back to his own time. Stuart then realizes that one cannot unbend the pretzel that is time, but one has to flow with it, because what comes around will always happen the way it is supposed to.
So if you want to fun night in with a date or with the girls, pop some sangria, and settle in for a very cute time-travel romance. One that is much better than any of those books written back in the 80s.
I give this film a Musing review of