Director: James Mangold
Writer: James Mangold, Steven Rogers
Cast: Meg Ryan (Kate McKay), Hugh Jackman (Leopold), Live Schreiber (Stuart Besse), Breckin Meyer (Charlie McKay), Natasha Lyonne (Darci), Bradley Whitford (J. J. Camden), Paxton Whitehead (Millard Mountbatten), Spalding Gray (Dr. Geisler), Josh Stamberg (Bob), Matthew Sussman (Phil), Charlotte Ayanna (Patrice), Philip Bosco (Otis), Cole Hawkins (Hector), Kristen Schaal (Miss Tree)
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Released: December 25, 2001 (USA)
Running time: 118 minutes
MPAA: PG-13 — brief strong language
Kate and her actor brother live in N.Y. in the 21st Century. Her ex-boyfriend, Stuart, lives above her apartment. Stuart finds a space near the Brooklyn Bridge where there is a gap in time. He goes back to the 19th Century and takes pictures of the place. Leopold — a man living in the 1870s — is puzzled by Stuart’s tiny camera, follows him back through the gap, and they both ended up in the present day. Leopold is clueless about his new surroundings. He gets help and insight from Charlie who thinks that Leopold is an actor who is always in character. Leopold is a highly intelligent man and tries his best to learn and even improve the modern conveniences that he encounters.
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• Hugh Jackman took etiquette lessons from 19-century etiquette expert Jane Gibson (who trained actors for such projects as Sense and Sensibility). He also studied ballroom dancing and trained to ride a horse for the film.
• According to the DVD commentary, several of the film’s actual crew members appear in the crew of the margarine commercial.
• When Meg Ryan knew that Hugh Jackman was going to spend his wedding anniversary alone, she phoned his wife to invite her to dinner. Reportedly, Jackman had to spend the day working.
• Sandra Bullock was originally in contention for the part of Kate.
• In the film’s original edit, Stuart was Leopold’s descendant, which was Stuart’s reason for specifically tracking him down. Criticism that this plot line also meant that Kate was Stuart’s ancestor lead to those scenes being cut. In the Director’s Cut version, however, this plot line is followed.
• In an early version of the screenplay, Leopold is accidentally transported through time in an actual time machine developed by a group of scientists that includes Kate. They have a child (of whom Leopold is unaware) and eventually reunite during the Roaring ’20s.
Leopold: Are you suggesting madam that there exists a law compelling a gentleman to lay hold of canine bowel movements?
Police Officer: I’m suggesting that you pick the poop up.
Charlie: Don’t you think it’s time you told me who you are. I mean, don’t get me wrong, doing the Duke thing with you 24/7 is a blast, but really. Who are you?
Leopold: [after a pause, simply] I’m the man that loves your sister.
Leopold: That thing is a damned hazard!
Kate: It’s just a toaster!
Leopold: Well, insertion of bread into that so-called toaster produces no toast at all, merely warm bread! Inserting the bread twice produces charcoal. So, clearly, to make proper toast it requires one and a half insertions, which is something for which the apparatus doesn’t begin to allow! One assumes that when the General of Electric built it, he might have tried using it. One assumes the General might take pride in his creations instead of just foisting them on an unsuspecting public.
Kate: You know something? Nobody gives a rat’s ass that you have to push the toast down twice. You know why? Because everybody pushes their toast down twice!
Leopold: Not where I come from.
Kate: Oh, right. Where you come from, toast is the result of reflection and study!
Leopold: Ah yes, you mock me. But perhaps one day when you’ve awoken from a pleasant slumber to the scent of a warm brioche smothered in marmalade and fresh creamery butter, you’ll understand that life is not solely composed of tasks, but tastes.
Kate: [mesmerized] Say that again.
Kate: I’m not very good with men.
Leopold: Perhaps you haven’t found the right one.
Kate: Maybe. Or, uh… maybe that whole love thing is just a grown-up version of Santa Claus; just a myth we’ve been fed since childhood. So, we keep buying magazines, joining clubs, and doing therapy and watching movies with hit pop songs played over love montages all in a pathetic attempt to explain why our love Santa keeps getting caught in the chimney.
Kate: I wasted the best years of my life on you.
Stuart: Those were your best years?
Stuart: Theoretically, if you go to the past in the future, then your future lies in the past. This is a picture of you in the future – in the past.
Kate: We make cereal crunchier. We make boring movies shorter. We made Smucker’s get the seeds out of their jam. We did that. As far as I’m concerned, we’re heroes.
Kate: So clearly, you must be a man out of time or Sergeant Pepper!
Kate: Why are you standing?
Leopold: I am accustomed to stand when a lady leaves the table.
[so, Charlie gets up]
Leopold: [talking to himself] Ah, Miss Blaine, you dance like a herd of cattle. You are a rare woman who lights up a room simply by leaving it!
Stuart: You of all people should understand, you’re a scientist. I mean, you invented the elevator.
Leopold: What is an elevator? What are you talking… Where the hell am I?
Stuart: I told you, you haven’t actually gone anywhere, you’re still in New York.
Leopold: That sir, is not New York!
Kate: I’m afraid it is!
Leopold: Is it your habit sir, to simply enter a conversation without introduction?
Leopold: [has chased and cornered a bag snatcher, while on horseback] 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.
[bag snatcher throws down the bag an flees, onlookers applaud]
Kate: Are you for real?
Leopold: I believe so.
Stuart: It is no more crazy than a dog finding a rainbow. Dogs are colorblind, Gretchen. They don’t see color. Just like we don’t see time. We can feel it, we can feel it passing, but we can’t see it. It’s just like a blur. It’s like we’re riding in a supersonic train and the world is just blowing by, but imagine if we could stop that train, eh, Gretchen? Imagine if we could stop that train, get out, look around, and see time for what it really is? A universe, a world, a thing as unimaginable as color to a dog, and as real, as tangible as that chair you’re sitting in. Now if we could see it like that, really look at it, then maybe we could see the flaws as well as the form. And that’s it; it’s that simple. That’s all I discovered. I’m just a… a guy who saw a crack in a chair that no one else could see. I’m that dog who saw a rainbow, only none of the other dogs believed me.
Gretchen: I believe you.
[Leopold and Charlie leave the club. Charlie is fuming because Leopold has enthralled Patrice, Charlie’s love interest]
Charlie: And I would have gotten her number if you hadn’t turned the evening into a guided tour of the Louvre!
Leopold: My apologies.
Charlie: Let’s get one thing straight. Patrice, she thought you were cute – probably gay, and cute – and cute, Leo, that’s just the kiss of death.
Charlie: Perhaps? Certainly!
Leopold: [produces a napkin] I believe this is her number.
[Charlie takes it from him in disbelief]
Leopold: As I see it, Patrice has not an inkling of your affections, and it’s no wonder. You, Charles, are a merry-andrew.
Charlie: A what?
Leopold: Everything plays a farce to you. Women respond to sincerity. No-one wants to be romanced by a buffoon. Now, that number rings her.
Leopold: So ring her tomorrow.
Charlie: I can’t. She gave the number to you.
Leopold: Only because I told her of your affections.
Charlie: [taken aback] Wha – what did you say?
Leopold: Merely that you admired her, but you were hesitant to make an overture, as you’d been told she was courting another.
Charlie: Shit… that’s good! Well, what did she say?
Leopold: She handed me the napkin.
[Charlie rushes under a lit store window to read the napkin, and starts dialing his cell phone]
Leopold: Charles, it’s quite late.
Charlie: No, no, she won’t be home yet. I get her machine and leave a message, ball’s in her court.
Leopold: You’re ladling calculation upon comedy. The point is, to keep the ball in your court.
Charlie: [slaps his phone shut] You’re right! You’re right!
Stuart: Women have changed since your time, Leo. They’ve become dangerous!
Charlie: You want to vex my sister!
Leopold: Some feel that to court a woman in one’s employ is nothing more than a serpentine effort to transform a lady into a whore.
Leopold: I feel as though we’ve met on a previous occasion.
Kate: Well Lionel, seeing as how I’ve never met any of Stuart’s friends, not even sure he has any, I don’t think that’s possible.
Kate: Stuart, you can tell me you picked up a transvestite in Times Square. I don’t care!
Roebling: Behold, rising before you, the greatest erection on the continent… the greatest erection of the age… the greatest erection on the planet!
Kate: People might think I’m brave, but I’m not.
Leopold: [quoting Thucydides] “The brave are simply those with the clearest vision of what is before them – glory and danger alike – and, notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”
Kate: And… it’s a great thing to get what you want. It’s a really good thing unless what you thought you wanted wasn’t really what you wanted… because what you really wanted you couldn’t imagine or you didn’t think it was possible but what if someone came along who knew exactly what you wanted without asking they just knew… like they could hear your heart beating or listen to your thoughts and what if they were sure of themselves and they didn’t have to take a poll and they loved you… but you hesitated and I… uh… I have to go… I’m sorry but… I have to go!
Uncle Millard: It has always been your greatest misfortune, nephew, that you so thoroughly amuse yourself with the sound of your own voice.
Leopold: In a life as stagnant as mine, that I can amuse myself at all is an evolutionary miracle.
Kate: Sunday is the day before the day I work, so it gets poisoned.
Leopold: You require a chaperone. His intentions are obvious.
Kate: I’m alone with you, do I need a chaperone?
Leopold: We are not courting, Kate. If we were, as a man of honor, I would have informed you of my intentions in writing.
Roebling: Time. Time, it has been proposed, is the fourth dimension. And yet, for mortal man, time has no dimension at all. We are like horses with blinders, seeing only what lies before us. Forever guessing the future and fabricating the past.
Charlie: Victorian dude, who has never seen a Met’s game, watching TV. Scene: “I say, are those little people in that box of phosphors. Crikey, I believe it is. This game is more beguiling than cricket.”
Leopold: Marriage is the promise of eternal love. As a man of honor I cannot promise eternally what I’ve never felt momentarily.
Leopold: [of the Brooklyn Bridge] Good Lord, it still stands. The world has changed all around it, but Roebling’s erection still stands! Ha, ha! [to nearest bystander] That, my friend, is a miracle!
Sanitation Worker: What?
Leopold: It’s a miracle, man!
Sanitation Worker: It’s a bridge.
Charlie: [about the dishwasher] And you push this button. Word to the wise: don’t press that till she wakes up, so she sees you doing it.
Leopold: How clever. The proverbial tree in the woods.
Charlie: If a man washes a dish, and no one sees it…
Charlie, Leopold: – did it happen?
Leopold: What has happened to the world? You have every convenience and comfort, yet no time for integrity.
Kate: I’ve been paying dues all of my life. And I’m tired, and I need a rest, and if I have to peddle a little pond scum to get one, then so be it.
Stuart: All this time I thought that I had perplexed fate and that it had to be untwisted, but what I had never considered is that the whole thing is a pretzel! A beautiful 4D pretzel of kinetic inevitability.
Kate: Can you go away? Can you just go away? Can you go away?
Leopold: I’m sorry if I have offended you in anyway…
Leopold: Otis always told me love is a leap. Lamentably, I was never inspired to jump.
Kate: You’re sucking the life out of my condiments!
Leopold: [to Charlie] You’re intoxicated. We should retire.
Leopold: Where I come from the meal is the result of reflection and study. Menus are prepared in advance, timed to perfection. It is said that without the culinary arts, the crudeness of reality would be unbearable.
Kate: She was a real romantic, my mom. When, when Prince Charles and Lady Di got married, she had a party, she made crumpets and jam. It was like a Super Bowl party, but for moms. She cried for a week.
Leopold: I don’t know the story of Prince Charles and Lady Di.
Kate: Oh, you don’t want to. It’s a cautionary tale, further proof.
Leopold: Of what?
Kate: You can’t live a fairy tale.