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.