DOWN WITH LOVE
(director: Peyton Reed; screenwriters: Eve Ahlert/Dennis Drake; cinematographer: Jeff Cronenweth; editor: Larry Bock; music: Marc Shaiman; cast: Renée Zellweger (Barbara Novak), Ewan McGregor (Catcher Block), Sarah Paulson (Vicki Hiller), David Hyde Pierce (Peter McMannus), Rachel Dratch (Gladys), Jack Plotnick (Maurice), Tony Randall (Theodore Banner), Jeri Ryan (Stewardess), Jack Plotnick (Maurice); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Bruce Cohen/Dan Jinks; Fox 2000 Pictures; 2003)
“A delightful old-fashioned lighthearted guilty pleasure treat.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A delightful old-fashioned lighthearted guilty pleasure treat. This romantic comedy follows along the lines of the loopy late-50s and early-60s comedies starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day (Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers). It’s cleverly scripted by Even Ahlert and Dennis Drake. Peyton Reed (“Yes Man”/”Ant Man”) directs as if this is also one of those fondly remembered Hollywood fluff classics, as he recreates the look and feel of those films in his satire.
The feminist newcomer author from Maine, whose first book Down With Love is to be published by Banner House, comes to NYC in 1962 to promote her upcoming book. In it she postulates that women will never be happy until they find the workplace as equal opportunity setting and that they should forget about love to indulge instead in casual sex like the men. The womanizing journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) of Know Magazine (think Esquire), is assigned by his neurotic publisher boss Peter McMannus (David Hyde Pierce) to do a cover story on Barbara so he can get her editor Vikki (Sarah Paulson) to date him in return for this publicity favor he’s granting to her. But Catch fails to keep dinner dates with Barbara thinking she’s an ugly spinster, and parties with a well-stacked stewardess (Jeri Ryan). Things change when Judy Garland sings Down With Love on the Ed Sullivan show and as a result of the show Barbara’s book becomes the rage of the literary world. Seeing Barbara’s photo for the first time gets Catch’s attention and he chases after her, picking her up on the cute at a dry cleaners by saying he’s an astronaut. His initial intention was to expose her in a column as a fraud, but instead falls in love and proposes.
Though a throwaway minor romantic comedy about the battle of the sexes, it does raise some serious issues for those of the dating age. But instead of answering them, hopes instead to provide some sitcom laughs with its goofy situations and a few lingering insightful moments about the changing modern times in regards to sex. Its main fault is that it’s not zany enough, as it could have been edgier rather than being so silly and superficial.
REVIEWED ON 11/1/2017 GRADE: B