Down With Love
3 out of 5 stars
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with Love Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
With the style of a 1960s Rock Hudson-Doris Day rom-com, Payton Reed (Bring It On) crafts a breezy, madcap, and perhaps too-quirky confection. It's 1962 and Barbara Novak (Zellweger) has just arrived in New York for the publication of her book Down With Love, about how women can find happiness by living and loving like men--in other words, having sex without romance. Soon she's in a game of wits with the star writer for a major men's magazine, Catcher Block (McGregor), a playboy who's trying to catch her lying about her premise. Meanwhile, Catcher's painfully shy editor (Pierce) is trying to woo Barbara's man-crazy editor (Paulson). And everything's set up for a screwball romantic farce when a twist throws things for a spin.

McGregor and Zellweger obviously relish playing these roles, and their gusto is infectious. Costumes, sets, music and dialog all reflect the period hilariously--this isn't realistic, it's heightened movie pastiche stylishness. And the plot spins around breathlessly, keeping us hooked ... and laughing. McGregor emerges victorious over the material with a charming turn that is utterly silly and yet still suave and energetic. Zellweger manages to overcome some slight miscasting (as usual) and make us like her character, even though she never emerges from the film's cartoonishness. Reed's direction walks a fine line between comic wackiness and flat-out spoof. Sometimes it works brilliantly; Pierce and Paulson are classic comic sidekicks and all of the dialog crackles. But many scenes are far too self-aware for their own good. In the end the colours and frills win us over--this is a thoroughly enjoyable bit of fluff, playing with serious ideas about the role of the sexes without ever actually addressing anything at all. It's just an excuse for Renee and Ewan to dress up in zippy costumes and bicker nastily before they fall hopelessly in love. We know exactly where it's going, and yet it's still good fun to tag along for the journey.

cert 12 themes, innuendo 11.Jul.03

dir Peyton Reed
scr Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake
with Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson, Tony Randall, Jeri Ryan, Rachel Dratch, Jack Plotnick, John Aylward, Warren Munson, Matt Ross, Florence Stanley
release US 16.May.03; UK 3.Oct.03
03/US 1h41

Not quite pillow talk: Zellweger and McGregor.

mcgregor zellweger pierce
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... down with love Jo Caswell, West Sussex: "This film is absolutely delish - lovely Ewan McGregor, lovely (if a tad skinny) Renee Zellwegger in lovely sixties New York. It's all bright colours, funky sixties gear, quirky, witty script, zany plot and perfect Rock Hudson/Doris Day pastiche from the lead characters. OK, so it's romantic fluff, but its very classy romantic fluff which also features David Hyde Pierce (aka Niles Crane) and Jeri Ryan (aka Seven of Nine) as a rather improbable English air hostess, 'flying the friendly skies'! I expected to come away feeling all warm inside; but laughing out loud at a good, solid, comedic script was a decided bonus. Well worth watching, all you 'Down With Love' girls! And don't forget to take a big bar of chocolate!" (18.Oct.03)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall