Down With Love (2003)
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Review Date: May 13, 2003
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
Renee Zellweger
Ewan McGregor
David Hyde Pierce
A small-town girl comes to the big city having written a book entitled "Down With Love" in which she teaches 1960s women how to become more independent and equal to men. Along the way she meets a cocky reporter whom she quickly writes off as a jerk. But what she doesn't know is that same jerk is pretending to be another "nicer guy" in order to write an expose on her. The razzing of love ensues.
A cute enough movie which floats along with its precise 1960s set designs & costumes, a bubbly soundtrack reminiscent of actual movies from that era, as well as a number of fun performances by its groovy cast, but nothing that particularly blew me away once I got into the whole "parody" of it all. Unlike a similar semi-homage film like FAR FROM HEAVEN, this movie doesn't ever really take itself too seriously though and therefore always kept me somewhat distant as well. I would have liked to have cared about these characters a little, but seeing as it was all over-the-top, I just plain wasn't invested into any of them by the end. That would have been fine as well, since the film is obviously slanted more toward comedy than drama anyway, but even its comedic elements were rather tame, especially when you consider that it's obviously spoofing the 60s tongue and cheek humor (a la PILLOW TALK), much of which wasn't all that funny to begin with (at least, in my opinion) and jam-packed with sexual innuendos, double-entendres and misunderstandings. One joke I did really like was the running references to the lead being "...a ladies man, a man's man, a man about town". Don't ask. McGregor was also a blast to watch as the dashing Catcher Block, as well as his doppelganger Zip Martin, complete with Southern accent (great names). Zellweger was okay, but I kept thinking that she wasn't right for the role the whole way through-- not exactly sure why though. The two supporting characters were also somewhat interesting, although both David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson should definitely be commended for bringing their own characters to life and adding a little more spice to the party. And oh yeah, Jeri Ryan was super-hot as the European stewardess. "More nuts please!"

The film also featured a number of inspired sequences including a hip montage of the two swinging cats "having fun" about town, an amusing split-screen telephone conversation between the leads which had AUSTIN POWERS written all over it, as well as a "getting ready to go out" scene in which both dates are intercut as they sing along to a Frank Sinatra song. The ending was also somewhat unexpected, including a very strange, very long monologue from Zellweger's character which basically dragged one joke out for waaaay too long. And that was probably my main issue with the film as a whole as well: the redundancy and lack of development once you got past the initial "aaaaaah" of it all. Yes, many of its parody elements were spot-on, the fake scenery, the obvious stock footage used in the background of its cab rides, the quirky split screens, etc...but without a solid script or a greater connection to its audience, I ultimately felt like it was going in circles. That's not to say that this movie isn't enjoyable, because it definitely is-- especially as a "date movie" with your honey-bunny. You won't really have much to discuss about it afterwards or cry or laugh incessantly during the actual screening, but if it's a fluffy "make believe" romantic comedy that you're looking for (or THE MATRIX RELOADED is sold out and you're already punch-drunk with nowhere to go), slip into this cool martini and enjoy its pretty colors, satin sheets and infectious soundtrack. Incidentally, make sure that you stick around for the end credits as a pretty cool song/dance number is featured starring McGregor (of MOULIN ROUGE fame) and Zellweger (of CHICAGO game). It's a gas, daddy-o.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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