Down With Love review by Tom Blain

Loud and gaudy

So I guess there is some sort of weird irony being the one guy that has seen Down With Love before Matrix Reloaded. Not that I am upset at all. It wasn't my turn to pick on movie night, and to tell you the truth I am not a big sci-fi guy. The Matrix is interesting but it won't change my life, and I won't go chasing rabbits down rabbit holes. Don't get me wrong; the interest is there but I would much rather spend an opening night at the one more Kubrick film or Scorsese flick. If Coppola would come back and direct, I might even go see that the first night. And with all those crowds there on the opening weekend, you can't get a good seat. I can put The Matrix off for now.

Down With Love is an homage to a collection of screwball-type, lovey-dovey, "lets hint at sex" comedies from the 60s. That list includes Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back both staring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. In both movies, Hudson is a womanizing, playboy type. As one woman exits the bedroom another is soon to enter (if you get my drift, slick). Doris Day was prim, proper and an all-round modern day woman who still had feminine style. They were opposites whose encounters were filled with sexual innuendo and then clever rejection, but finally whose romantic reconciliation brought the film to a close. In 2003's Down With Love, the characters Catcher Block and Barbara Novak are the same, but they are played with a little TLC by actors Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellwegger.

Unlike most remakes of the genre, like say What Women Want, the producers went "all the way." (By the way, I don't think the genre has a true nickname yet, so I will coin the term Pillow Comedy... patent pending.) The movie is set in swingin' 1963 and is furnished in modernist style furniture and clothes that would give a blind man sight and then make him want to carve out his eyes. There is a lot of pink. Then there is green. Not like grassy green, but more like your mother has been on boat too long green. Its pretty damn colorful. Director Peyton Reed even went through the trouble to shoot scenes in cars like they did in the 60s, with the moving traffic background and still interior foreground. It gives those scenes that "damn thats obviously fake... are you shittin me?" look. And the background music is the genuine article. It sounds like it was taken straight from Henry Mancini's bloody grave. Its all outstandingly gaudy in the way this movie needs to be to make the whole thing work. Authenticity takes a front seat.

Zellwegger and McGregor seem to relish their roles. It looks like a lot of fun getting into those old duds. McGregor is charming enough but doesn't really strike me as the playboy, however. I remember him as a smack head in Trainspotting and Obi-Wan in Backstreet Star Wars, so watching him walk around like Hef takes adjustment. He isn't Rock Hudson, but looking back neither was Rock Hudson was he? To his credit lays down the moves and delivers his lines well, so hats off to him even if he doesn't look the ladies' man. Zellwegger was a bit better. I never really liked Doris Day so I can easily say she lived up to Doris Day's mark. She had quite a bit of energy and you could tell she had fun in all those outrageous clothes of the 60s. She was bubbly, and very, very ... "pink" but at the same time, she was step for step with McGregor.

I noticed something about Zellwegger's appearance recently. She lost quite a bit of weight since Bridget Jones but still has these puffy cheeks. Could be the makeup (thats my bet) as it seems a lot of movies she has done lately requires her to pile it on, when looks best with very little. She doesn't look much like the adorable single mother from Jerry Maguire though. You had me at 'hello', now you've got me at 'goodbye.'

David Hyde Pierce is in this movie playing about as close you can get to Niles Crane. Its funny, but I have seen him not play Niles in films and be much funnier. To me it was a disappointment. The part he played was played by Tony Randall in Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back. He is also in this movie in a bit role as Novak's big-time boss (a little throwback trivia for ye').

All in all, Down with Love is an entertaining little nugget. The script is cornball at times but completely clever most other times. There are more sexual innuendos thrown around than all three Austin Powers movies combined. Unlike Powers most of them are so subtle and well disguised you probably won't catch the first time. There are also plenty of fast paced tongue twisters that are kind to the funny bone. The movie's downfall comes in the end. I won't give it a way but I have to say I was more than a tad let down. I am big on endings so this one gets docked a couple points for failure. Also the whole Pillow Genre (there I am using my own word now!) isn't really my type of film. My dad never liked Doris Day and I think that dislike was passed down the gene pool to yours truly. It was fun, but in all fairness, this movie is meant more for the fair gender of which I am not a part.




4 out of 10 Jackasses
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