May 2003
Down with Love

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

Down with Love
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Peyton Reed
Producer: Bruce Cohen & Dan Jinks
Screenwriters: Eve Ahlert & Dennis Drake
Composer: Marc Shaiman
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson, David Hyde Pierce, Rachel Dratch, & Tony Randall


It seems that the trend in Hollywood these days is to make a film that goes back in time. Last year we had “Chicago”, based on the Broadway musical from yesteryear, and “Far From Heaven”, a homage to the films Douglas Sirk used to make. As modern technology is putting some things out of existence such as the latest CGI in place of movie sets, a quick reminder of how the past was is sometimes a good thing. Doris Day and Rock Hudson were the best of friends on and off the set. Together, they made a couple of films that were funny and whimsical. In a throwback to the era, mainly the 60s, Director Peyton Reed has crafted a fanciful yet different film in “Down With Love”, starring today’s leading lady of the moment, Renee Zellweger.

Set in the early 1960s with New York as its location, Barbara Novak (Zellweger) hits the city with a new book hoping to get coverage. The book, “Down With Love”, is a pre-feminist manifesto on urging all women to just say no to love and go for self, in their career, empowerment, and sex. As much as her confident editor (Paulson) believes in Barbara, no publishing honcho, at least male, wants to promote the book. Tony Randall, himself part of the Day-Hudson era, plays one the publishing magnate of a magazine called Know. Even he won’t give Barbara the coverage she desperately wants. So Barbara and Vicki go to the one person that could jump start their quest for publicity, Catcher Block (McGregor), Know’s leading journalist and the “Cassanova” of the city. Frustrated because of Catcher’s refusal to meet her on several occasions, Barbara’s luck suddenly turns towards the better. Judy Garland happens to sing a song on TV with the book’s title in the chorus. Before you know it, “Down With Love” is the hottest thing in town, and every guy is suddenly depressed. Catcher’s womanizing days are over as his exes have no time for him since they read Barbara’s book. With the help of his boss and pal Peter (Hyde Pierce), Catcher aims to destroy Barbara’s fame and expose her as a phony.

Although Zellweger and McGregor look good respectively in their parts, together they have no chemistry. Some of the jokes don’t seem to work for it seemed compulsory. Individually, they are a blast. Zellweger relishes in the many costumes she’s wearing throughout the film. Granted she’s no Doris Day, but she does have some “funny bones”. McGregor shines in his role. He’s perfected the look and the attitude that Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, and other cool guys of the 60s had. The funniest scenes come from the real comedians in the film, David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson. Their chemistry was genuinely felt. Although the role wasn’t a far cry from his role as Niles Crane in TV’s Frasier, Hyde Pierce can make the leap to the film world. What stands out in the film are the colorful sets displayed throughout the film and the way the scenery captured the look of the 60s. “Down with Love” is a fluff film that sparkles despite its main leads having no chemistry.