003797Reviews & Counting
Down with Love
DVD disk
10.09.2004 By: Indiana Sev
Down with Love order
Peyton Reed

Renee Zellweger
Ewan McGregor
David Hyde Pierce


star Printer-Friendly version
Catcher Block (McGregor), playboy journalist extraordinaire, meets his match in Barbara Novak (Zellweger), a small-town author who’s started a wild and wacky battle of the sexes with her new book: "Down With Love". The gloves come off in the best possible setting for this type of sex comedy: the vibrant, colorful and romantic New York City, circa 1962.
This delightful ode to the popular late fifties/early sixties Rock Hudson/Doris Day sex romps (PILLOW TALK, LOVER COME BACK) has enough energy, inventiveness and pizzazz to satisfy even the pickiest of romantic comedy fans. If you enjoy the keen look of New York in the early sixties, like in films such as BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and WEST SIDE STORY then, like me, you’ll smile from ear to ear in the splendid look director Peyton Reed has given the film. Everything I was expecting from this film I got, from the playful score reminiscent of sex comedies past to enough sexual double-entendres to make a James Bond flick feel like BAMBI. No seriously, I’ve never, in my entire life, seen a movie with more sexual innuendoes than DOWN WITH LOVE...and it works!

Practically everything works in this film. If you’re prepared to accept the enthusiastic, over the top acting from the cast (which is necessary for this genre of film), then there won’t be much about this comedy that won’t please. McGregor is the perfect, charming leading man and Zellweger is her adorable, sexy and sweet self to a tee once again. With some saucy directing and wonderful set and art decoration, this movie is a visual feast that’ll meet all of your expectations if you’re in the mood for a fun, quick and utterly charming sex comedy that exposes films like YOU’VE GOT MAIL for the shit that they really are. Some might call it fluff, I say it’s great fluff, my kind of fluff, the best kind of fluff.
The surprisingly ample festivities begin with an audio commentary by director Peyton Reed who covers all of the questions I was wondering about and addressed many matters relating to the movie being a sex comedy and all that that entails. He speaks at a brisk pace and with much enthusiasm. A very enjoyable commentary track that I highly recommend. Also included is the music video: “Here’s To Love”, performed by Zellweger & McGregor. Both having done musicals in the past (MOULIN ROUGE and CHICAGO) and both are very comfortable and impressive in this video, showing off their dancing and singing abilities once again. 5 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Reed are also included. There isn’t anything special per se about these cut scenes, but if you’re hungry for more sparkling New York set design, check them out. More fun extras include:

“Guess My Game” featuring celebrity mystery guest Barbara Novak: Original Network Broadcast: This is the exact same scene in the film, except it takes up the entire screen giving it the illusion of an actual broadcast.

“Down With Love” hair and wardrobe tests: This a sequence of the four stars (Ewan, Renee, David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson) posing like fashion models with various coifs and costumes from the film. The entire thing is done in the manner of a professional photo shoot of that era and is set to a Mancini-esque bouncy sixties score. Worth the watch, it isn’t too long.

“Down With Love” blooper reel: This is actually a very fun reel to watch, the cast and crew really seem to have had a great time filming this movie and there is a very easy-going feel through the entire thing. There is also a cool tribute to the fight scenes from the old Batman television series that is amusing to see. It’s well put together and unlike most gag reels, this one is actually entertaining to watch and long enough (~ 6 min.) for you to get into.

Wow, they really give you your money’s worth with these extras.

The Down With Love – The Documentaries feature includes 6 short featurettes.

On location with “Down With Love”: This is a fascinating feature (and believe me, I’m not usually impressed by the features focusing on CGI and special effects) in which they show the before and after shots of some scenes that had fake backgrounds (for the moving cars scenes) many of which were taken from actual sex romp films from that era. They also show how some CGI effects helped create the (film) world of 1963 New York flawlessly. I was very impressed by this little feature.

Creating the world of “Down With Love”: The production designer and director discuss the various sets and the all around fantasy/reality look of the film. One of my favorite elements of this movie was this fantasized appearance it gave to New York City and its dwellings in the early sixties, very much the same way Hollywood films depicted the big apple from its films at the time. This one is another pleasant little feature.

The costumes of “Down With Love”: The costume designer (Daniel Orlandi) and director Reed speak about the various fashions in the film.

The swingin’ sounds of “Down With Love": Composer Marc Shaiman’s score in this film was brilliant and incredibly precise (right down to specific notes for the characters and body movements). I imagined I traveled back to a film from the early sixties, it was that authentic. Shaiman talks about how he felt he was born to score this film. His enthusiasm for this project really comes through in this feature.

“Down With Love”, Up With Tony Randall: Cast and crew gush about how big a thrill it was to have Tony Randall participate in the film (him being a veteran of these types of comedies from that time). The man himself also shares a moment about his part in such a familiar setting. Tony is as cool as ever.

“Down With Love” - split decisions: The use of split screens in Down With Love not only gives it that sixties bedroom comedy flavor but is also used to suggest many risqué sexual positions. Director Reed takes us through the filming of those scenes and what it took to get that desired effect. Good stuff!

We’re not quite done yet. An HBO special is also included, and is basically a “making of” feature with the cast and crew discussing their experiences on the set with us. I usually don’t find “making of’s” particularly interesting, but the DOWN WITH LOVE gang are so goddamn lively, their joie de vivre just attaches itself to you. Watchable, for sure.

A cute “Down With Love” testimonial is also part of this army of extras. This is an authentic looking and sounding commercial that you would have seen about the popularity and effectiveness of the book “Down With Love” should this book have existed in the sixties. It’s only a few seconds, check it out.

A music promo pushing the soundtrack finishes things off.
I absolutely loved this movie and YES, you should buy it and make it a part of your present DVD collection. It’s a movie that you can watch and enjoy over and over again whatever mood you’re in and it’s even liable to have you seek out some of the films that inspired it. They were extremely generous with the extra features as well. DOWN WITH LOVE is an overall perfect movie for that perfect Sunday afternoon of movie watching. Enjoy!
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