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Down with Love (2003)

 -  Comedy | Romance  -  16 May 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 29,307 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 296 user | 141 critic | 39 from

Aaaah... it's New York City in 1962, and love is blooming between a journalist and a feminist advice author, who's falling head over heels despite her beau's playboy lifestyle.


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Cast overview, first billed only:


An homage to the early 1960s sex comedies that starred Rock Hudson and Doris Day. The story follows a best-selling female advice author who has all the answers until a sly journalist playboy starts asking the questions. Written by Natalie Knowles <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

love | book | author | playboy | sex | See more »


The ultimate catch has met his match.


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual humor and dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

16 May 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Down with Love  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$67,204 (South Africa) (10 October 2003)


£1,958,152 (UK) (24 October 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Average Shot Length = ~5 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~4.5 seconds. See more »


The final shot, in which Novak and Block fly over Manhattan in a helicopter, the W.R. Grace Building is featured in the foreground. This tower wasn't built until 1974. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: The place: New York City. The time: Now, 1962. And there's no time or place like it. If you've got a dream, this is the place to make that dream come true. That's why the soaring population of hopeful dreamers has just reached eight million people. Oh! Make that eight million and one.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The ending credits include an extra scene with Renee & Ewan singing a duet and one with David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson. See more »


Features The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) See more »


One Mint Julep
Written by Rudolph Toombs
Performed by Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra (as Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra)
Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

"Pillow Talk" was a hundred times more sophisticated than this!
18 May 2003 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

"Down with Love,' as everyone has heard by this time, is an attempt to recreate the time period, look and feel of the 1959 Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedy `Pillow Talk' and other 50's-60's romantic comedies like it. But I have a feeling that the screenwriters, Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake, never actually saw the original, which was a hundred times smarter, funnier and more sophisticated than their uninspired efforts to lampoon it.

As the script would have it, women were still unenlightened when Barbara Novak comes to New York to promote her new book `Down with Love,' arguing for sexual equality in the bedroom as well as the boardroom. She catches the attention of playboy journalist Catcher Block, who sets out to prove that she's a fake and really only desires romance and marriage, like all women. Renee Zellweger, with her adorably scrinched-up face and perpetual pout, is Barbara, and Ewan McGregor, while a bit scrawny for the Rock Hudson part, is suave and charming as Catcher. They are supported by the always funny David Hyde Pierce as Catcher's editor, in the fussy-neurotic Tony Randall part (of course!) and Sarah Paulson as Barbara's friend and editor. They are great, and so is the candy-colored decor and the kicky 60's clothes, but the film is a dud, because it never decides what attitude to take toward the material-or even what era it's mocking.

While much of the film's plot derives from 1959's `Pillow Talk,' the plot device of Barbara's proto-feminist book is very similar to the 1964 comedy with Natalie Wood, `Sex and the Single Girl.' (Neatly splitting the time difference, `Down with Love' is set in 1962). The country certainly traveled a long way between 1959 and 1964. The film seems to raises the question: which will come off better, 1959 female `repression' or 1964-and-later `liberation?' As for what the screenwriters think, I have no idea. Their premise is a muddle and the script never elucidates it.

But just between us, I think 1959 actually comes off better. The characters Doris played would have utterly disdained Barbara's ideas about women being as promiscuous as some men. She was self-confident enough as a woman to know she didn't need to imitate men (and the worst of men at that). And as for getting ahead in the workplace. . .well, Doris didn't need any advice on how to become an independent career woman. She just was one. Today's filmmakers don't seem to understand the era at all; it was more advanced than they think.

This movie makes even more painfully obvious something I've come to feel more and more lately: that `political correctness,' is one of the greatest enemies of modern movie storytelling. Trying to be self-consciously `retro' while remaining completely ignorant of the past makes it even worse! In addition, the writers seem to be knocking themselves out to play it safe; they make sure we know that they know that feminism is good. . . `only not too much; that women are of course, to be free to have sex promiscuously like men; but in the end, they really prefer romance. We're for the sexual revolution, but for marriage too, you understand; we don't want to offend anyone. Please, please, like us. . .' As a result, the story, while going through the paces, has nowhere to go. Barbara and Catcher seem to be nervously working out a political position paper rather than engaging in a romance. By the end, after a plot twist or two that reverses everything you've previously thought about the characters, you just don't care.

Nor is this movie in any way as witty and sophisticated as the original. The sex gags are obvious and labored. You may remember that in the most memorable scene in `Pillow Talk,' Doris and Rock, in their separate bathtubs in a split-screen shot, appeared to be playfully touching bare toes as they talked on the phone. `Down with Love' tries to replicate this with modern explicitness, having the characters mime various kinky sexual positions -- and it just doesn't work. The earlier scene was sweet -- and sizzling. The modern one is just silly and smutty. Of course, they had to be sure that today's Austin-Powers-watching kids would get it. For some reason, the writers think they are striking a blow for `real' sexiness on screen, as opposed to the `quaint' and chaste original. Ah, but real sexiness lies in the art of suggestion -- and true sophistication is trusting your audience to get the joke without thinking you have to whack them over the head with it.

Few screen pairings were ever as funny and sexy as Doris Day and Rock Hudson, and you really couldn't expect that here, with the script working totally against the performers. Ewan and Renee did offer a few sweet moments. Their song and dance over the closing credits was also terrific. It's a pity, because they are both such delightful performers. They deserved a lot better-and so did we.

20 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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