Down with Love (2003) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
305 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
An underrated gem - glowing pastiche with a post-feminist twist
garboventures17 May 2004
I'm surprised to read so many user comments which indicate that Down With Love received some critical acclaim - I recall a very different response, where critics seemed hugely and almost unanimously underwhelmed (maybe this was a UK response?) and consequently, I wasn't expecting too much. This only enhanced my enjoyment - what an underrated gem this movie is!!

I rarely like Zellwegger, but here she was pertly perfect, and McGregor was simply fabulous - dashing, charismatic, loathsome, even vulnerable, especially when he occasionally slips from his duplicitous fake self (when he notices a lash on her cheek, for example), and always delivers his lines with exquisite (and surprising) comic timing. The support cast were also excellent, especially Hyde Pierce, although he was not a 100 miles from his decade-long stint as Niles Crane.

The set, costumes, production design and cinematography were also outstanding in this movie, evoking the brashly-coloured, kitsch, fluffy-light ambiance which pervades the early 1960s New York screwball romance movie genre, but the snippy script and slick direction removed this pastiche away from its potential as mere enchanting, screwball fable to a witty, post-feminist send-up of this Hudson/Day romcom genre - and indeed, the battle of the sexes. To its credit, Down With Love doesn't collapse completely into mawkish sentimentality with Novak (Zellwegger) suddenly capitulating into the cult of domesticity, tamed by her man, which is often the fate of modern post-feminist heroines - instead, the couple compromise, and we can be sure that she won't be confined to the suburban purgatory she comes to dread.

In all, a fun, fab and brilliantly executed movie, which has been clearly (re)created with due love for the genre it so skillfully parodies, yet in the light of postmodern sensibilities by adding a much-needed post-feminist twist.
76 out of 109 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not for the casual moviegoer
preppy-324 May 2003
It's 1962 New York. Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) has written a book called "Down With Love" convincing woman that they don't need a man or love or sex to succeed and be happy with themselves. Womanizer Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) is determined to prove her wrong.

This is many things--an affectionate remake of those silly Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies; a sweet sendup of them at the same time; a perfect example of 1960s sex comedies with a 2000s twist; a huge barrel of laughs for film buffs with its perfect remake of a 1960s film and an examination of sexual mores and stereotypes of the 1960s.

The movie look like a Day/Hudson movie right down to the fashions Zellweger wears, the VERY colorful sets, the obviously painted backdrops from penthouse apartments and the crappy back projection in cars. There's also a hysterical (and very dirty) use of split screen during a phone conversation between Zellweger and McGregor. The movie even opens with the old Cinemascope logo used in films of that era!

The cast is right on target--Zellweger and McGregor give their all to the performances--they wink at the audience all the time...but not TOO much. David Hyde Pierce (doing Tony Randall) and Sarah Paulson are also very funny with the dreaded best friends role. The only real problem is the script. It is sharp and funny but occasionally bogs down and some of the twists are too obvious.

Still, I enjoyed it. The casual moviegoer will probably hate this--unless you get the inside jokes all throughout the film you'll think you're watching a badly dated sex comedy. But it's not--it's a parody and an affectionate sendup. This will be most appreciated by film buffs or students.
83 out of 120 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Down And Then Some
littlemartinarocena6 June 2009
I loved the Doris Day/Rock Hudson pastiches and some of the comedies that followed with the extraordinary Doris and a varied but terrific succession of leading men. In particular with James Garner in "The Thrill Of It All" The secret there, I believe, was a smart and knowing script an unmistakable chemistry between the stars and performances that were solidly based on reality no matter how "out there" they seem to be. Here, the whole thing is so self conscious that we are never allow to go beyond it and actually enjoy the whole thing. Rene Zellwegger is a very good actress but not a natural comedienne. She's at her best when she's thoroughly thorough as in "Nurse Beatty" where she was very funny mostly because her conviction was so convincingly strong. Here she plays it like in a SNL sketch and could have worked if it had had the length of one of those sketches. In "Down With Love" she's downright annoying. Ewan McGregor, one of my favorites, is not even there. Let me explain. Think of Rock Hudson's commitment to those roles. The charm he was able to emanate and how naturally he became the foil for Doris Day. Here Zellwegger and McGregor don't play opposite each other but against each other. No chemistry whatsoever. Ewan McGregor so wonderful, powerful and beautiful in "Velvet Goldmine" "Shallow Grave" not to mention "Moulin Rouge", is kind of insignificant here. Yes, I'm amazed myself. Doesn't have a hint of the romantic manliness of Rock Hudson, isn't that funny? I didn't like either the on the nose production design, the silly costumes, the theatrical make up and hair nor the unimaginative lighting. Other than that, David Hyde Pierce is, almost, worth the price of admission.
47 out of 66 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Charming and fun, with jokes that would make Doris Dayblush.....
Ldyandrea8 May 2003
If only because Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger were in this movie, it would be worth seeing. What you can't expect, however, is the sheer fun that ensues, complete with fake New York City backdrops, glamorous period sets, and even more glamorous costumes, makeup and hairstyles. After the first few minutes, I began to tire of this homage mentality, but the story quickly sucked me in, thanks in great part to the blissfully neurotic performance of David Hyde Pierce as the friend/boss of Catcher Block (McGregor). Sarah Paulson is also fun and perky as Barbara Novak's (Zellweger) best friend/editor, and keeps things moving along quite well. His Theatrical Eminence, Tony Randall, even makes an appearance as "The Big Boss" of the publishing company. He, coincidentally enough, was the friend/boss to Rock Hudson in "Pillow Talk" from 1959.

The chemistry between McGregor and Zellweger heated up the screen in a sweet, old-fashioned way. Remember the kind of romance that reminds you of when just smooching and holding hands was just ever so dreamy? That level is cranked up a few notches higher (in that same sweet fashion) than Doris Day or Rock Hudson would have ever dared; a particular example is the priceless "split-screen" telephone conversation between the leads, taken to a level above, below, and to the side-like of any ever seen on screen before.

Also of great note is Zellweger's scene that includes the longest bit of unedited exposition I've had the opportunity to see on film (one-shot, no cuts at all). It reminds me greatly of Steve Martin's coffee-pouring bit ("Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid") except that it's all dialogue! I was torn between listening to all of the story twists, and wanting to pull out a stopwatch to clock her monologue! The next shot of Catch must have mirrored the expression of the entire audience at that particular moment!

Anyone planning to see this film might find it amusing to first watch movies like "Pillow Talk" to get a feel for the kind of film that is being emulated here. In fact, there are a number of particular story elements that obviously could be attributed to that particular film.

It should be no surprise to learn that the team who wrote this fun sex farce is also responsible for the upcoming "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde" set to be released July 2, 2003.

Have fun, and enjoy this tasty treat of nostalgia. Chocolate, as you will see, becomes a key player. Make sure to stick around for the final credits as well.....if you loved McGregor in "Moulin Rouge" and Zellweger in "Chicago", you will adore the vocal stylings of both at the end of this oh-so-cute movie!
53 out of 77 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Really fizzles down the stretch
jk-3321 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I actually liked the gimmick (sending up the old Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies) and the way they set it up in the beginning. Loved the costumes and the set design, and, as others have noted, how they tried to match the style of the originals. But the storyline really fell apart pretty quickly, and especially as we wound toward the end and there were suddenly layers upon layers of new story added. Like, WHAT? I found the whole payoff to the story beyond redemption.

I guess, overall, I would say the movie came off charmless and forced, and there was no chemistry between Zellweger and McGregor. Plus he didn't look at all like the hunks of that time period. (Too small, for one thing -- think Rock Hudson and James Garner. Or even Dean Martin. They're all tall and more muscular.) I also thought that RZ and EMc seemed to be playing in two different movies, neither of which would've been anywhere near the 60s.

I agree that David Hyde Pierce brightens the movie every time he shows up. It's just that there's not enough DHP to save the whole movie.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Charming recreation
rosscinema26 May 2003
This is an homage to the light romantic comedies of the early 60's and a strong influence by "Pillow Talk". Renee Zellweger is Barbara Novack and she writes a book about women and how they look at relationships and an editor at a publishing firm named Vicki Hiller (Sarah Paulson) convinces the board of directors to publish her book. One way to get attention to her book is for a well known writer to write an expose of it so they try to get Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) to do the job but he's so busy womanizing that he keeps canceling their appointments so they try other methods to get attention to her book and they succeed as it becomes a best seller. Catcher is amazed by her success and bets his friend and coworker Peter MacMannus (David Hyde Pierce) that he can make her fall in love with him which would make her a hypocrite and he would have a big story to publish. Catcher pretends to be a shy astronaut from Florida and they start to date. This film is directed by Peyton Reed who has worked almost exclusively in television and is directing the "Fantastic Four" next. Film does an admirable job of recreating those type of films that were prevalent in those times. The sets are terrific with the decor for the offices and apartments. Even the scenes like when Zellweger is riding in a car its obvious that its a sound stage with a movie screen behind them showing stock footage of 1960's traffic. The script also does a good job of adding some flavor of 1960's culture like when one of the board of directors describes her as "The Farmers Daughter" from Maine. This is of course in reference to Debbie Reynolds and when MacGregor says he's an astronaut from Cocoa Beach Florida its from "I Dream Of Jeannie". All pop icons from the sixties. And having Tony Randall in the film gives it the ultimate cavalier compliment. Its not a perfect homage like the scene where Paulson accuses Pierce of being homosexual which would not have been allowed during those times but the lighthearted charm of the film remains intact. Zellweger is fine as usual as Barbara but its MacGregor that caught my eye. His performances in the last two years have never ceased to be interesting. He was almost unrecognizable in "Black Hawk Down" and then shows he can sing in "Moulin Rouge!" But also shows he can handle playing American dialects. He's an amazing actor to watch and here he adds to his mystique. Film is utterly charming and it does compliment the films from the early sixties.
35 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Up with this movie! It pays great homage to the Doris & Rock films
inkblot1115 February 2007
Barbara (Renee Zellweger) has just written a book called Down With Love. She leaves Maine and lands in New York City, where her book is about to hit the shelves. Unfortunately, the male executives at her publishing house have doubts about the new tome and are not forking over any marketing money. The lone woman at Banner publishing, Vicki, takes Barbara under her wing and they work to get the nonfiction title some fame. First, they decide to ask Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor), a prominent male writer for Know magazine, to do a cover story for the book. He postpones the interview again and again. In the meantime, Vicki and Barbara get the book mentioned on the Ed Sullivan show. Soon, copies of DWL are flying out of the bookstores, mainly because the book empowers women to think more about themselves and less about attracting a man. Catcher spies a picture of Barbara in a bookstore window and knows he has to meet her. However, since he is a notorious ladies man, he assumes the identity of an astronaut named Zip Martin. Naturally, he plays the perfect gentleman when he begins to take Barbara out on the town. How long will it be until Barbara discovers the truth? And, will she have fallen for the guy first? Romantic comedy fans everywhere should love this film. It is a takeoff of the old Doris and Rock movies that are so delightfully fun and full of clean mischief. Zellweger and McGregor are a joy in their roles as the smitten couple. The rest of the cast, including a cameo by Tony Randall, are great, too. The look of the film is nice, as are the costumes and the Big Apple setting. If you love crazy, contrived, comic love tales, get this one tonight. You will bask in its take-me-out-of-my-blues delivery.
15 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
60s Retro in Comedy Spoof...
cariart1 October 2003
DOWN WITH LOVE, director Peyton Reed's homage/spoof of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies of the early 60s, is a delightful bit of fluff in a movie season filled with inferior sequels and overwrought epics. Dazzling to watch, with Givenchy-inspired costumes (if Daniel Orlandi does not receive an Oscar for his work, his peers should turn in their Designer cards), wonderfully over-the-top sets (EVERYBODY in those 60s films lived in apartments you could land airplanes in), and a 'More 1963 New York than 1963 New York' look (created on the studio back lot, with ample support from CGI), the film would deserve a viewing even if the cast never uttered a line of dialog!

Fortunately, the script, by Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake, is wickedly funny, full of the politically incorrect double entendres that were as close as Hollywood could get to actual 'naughtiness', 30 years ago (and, yes, there are more than a few present that WOULD have been censored, even then). The story, of a woman who writes a best-selling 'self-help' book eschewing the necessity of men for any more than 'casual sex', and the 'Hugh Hefner'-like writer who turns his prodigious charms to work, in the guise of a naive astronaut, to win her love, and thus discredit her theories, would have fit Doris Day and Rock Hudson to a 'T'. While Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor lack their role models' charisma, they have a pleasant chemistry together, and the 'split-screen' phone call scenes between the pair are even racier than the Day/Hudson 60s versions.

If the leads seem a bit bland, the supporting cast more than makes up for any shortcomings. In a role that SHOULD garner a 'Supporting Actor' Oscar nomination, David Hyde Pierce takes on the part assumed by Tony Randall or Gig Young in those 60s farces, that of the put-upon, neurotic, sometimes prissy friend of the hero. He is superb, even SOUNDING like Tony Randall, and steals every scene he's in. His 'opposite number', friend of the heroine Sarah Paulson, while not quite at Pierce's level, is still quite funny as a chain-smoking career woman who would chuck it all for the right man. And, in a FABULOUS piece of casting, the MAN himself, Tony Randall, appears as the book publisher whose bestseller is RUINING his love life. At 83, the man can still toss off a funny line...

With a very inventive 'twist-within-a-twist' climax, and Marc Shaiman's evocative score punctuating the proceedings, DOWN WITH LOVE is a delight!
19 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Tipping its Hat to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson Comedies from the 60s.
nycritic23 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
To make a movie which pays homage to a specific style of film making and effectively pull it off is a thing not many movies nowadays can say they do. Words like "noir" or "romantic comedy" or "sex farce" or "genre film" are thrown around cheaply, and the end result is just shades away from tragic.

DOWN WITH LOVE is a film that successfully pays a sincere homage to the movies that Doris Day and Rock Hudson made back in the very early 60s, and is filmed to look as if it had been released in its time frame, down to its (opening and closing) credits, fake backdrops, stunning wardrobe, innocent innuendo, and overall 60s values. There could have been a plethora of references and anachronisms that could have ruined the look of the film, but thankfully, this is not the case, and for a plot that transpires in 1962, it feels absolutely and undeniably 1962.

Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson, and David Hyde Pierce all take over roles made famous by their predecessors (Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, and Tony Randall), and without imitating them, they make these their own and make DOWN WITH LOVE a breezy, enjoyable viewing that doesn't ask for too much analysis.
27 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Some funny situations with fabulous art design
MLDinTN3 June 2004
DWL didn't do to well at the box office. I guess it must have been due to a poor advertizing campaign. After finally seeing it, I though it was pretty good. It's sort of like a battle of the sexes. Barbara Novak pretends to be a man hating woman who doesn't need love while Catcher Block is a womanizer out to prove he can get the DWL girl(Novak) to fall in love. So along the way, we get funny situations, like Catch pretending to be Zip and many over heard conversations that seem to be about something else, ie... the secretary overhearing the sock discussion. And an unusually scene using split screens with Barbara and Catch talking on the phone. She's below and he's on top doing pushups. At the end they smoke. Cute idea.

The 2 supporting characters, Vikki and Peter, were good. Plus we get a surprise twist toward the end involving Barbara, which I never saw coming.

FINAL VERDICT: Cute and funny. It's different than your average romantic comedy. So if you like romantic comedies, I recommend this one.
24 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
No, thank you
aguasmarked6 June 2009
A total misfire. Not an ounce of the charm of the comedies "Down With Love" seems to want to pay homage to, parodied, emulate, whatever the intent was, it failed. I like Renee Zellwegger and Ewan McGregor enormously, but not here. I was embarrassed for them. Her pout here was infuriating and her costumes! So up front as if designed to dazzle us are really atrocious. Ewan McGregor seems totally disinterested and thinking of Rock Hudson and one does he looks so, so, so...small. The only redeeming feature is David Hyde Pierce. He's the only one who finds the right tone and made me smile.The failure of this half baked attempt will probably spoil the possibility of other frothy comedies 50's style to be made. Pity. The genre needs and deserves a real shot in the arm.
35 out of 62 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An Awesome Ewan & Renee Piece!
Shilohbloo28 November 2005
I just love Ewan and Renee (not to mention David & Sarah!) in Down With Love. Ewan and Renee have proved themselves over and over again to be fantastic performers, and in my book, this one is tops! I am so glad that they made this film, for those of us who miss this type of lighthearted, uplifting, classy work of days gone by -- not to mention being able to see Ewan and Renee in some real quality signing and dancing! WOW! True chemistry. Their timing is impeccable. And I've got to say, Ewan, a very handsome man in his own right, never looked sexier. Absolutely gorgeous. They were meant for this... They all were! It was all wonderful. The glamorous outfits, the bright sceneries, the spaciousness, the clever props, the catchy music, the perfectly timed split screen segment done as sleek and artistically as a dance... the whole cast -- Including Tony Randall to bring it all back!!! -- Nothing could have been improved upon. This piece has kick, bounce, nostalgia, wit and smooth elegance. David Hyde Pierce, playing Tony Randall's classic character role, is right on the mark. I couldn't imagine a closer match... and his sidekick, Sarah Paulson, is pure gold. This movie was made for them, and anyone who hasn't watched it, or who did but just doesn't get it, is missing something genuinely worthwhile. To not "get it" is your unfortunate loss. When "It's A Wonderful Life" first came out, it was considered one of the worst movies around, having done pitifully in the box office. People were simply confused and thought it to be unrealistic silly fluff. It wasn't until many years later, when it was shown by accident on TV, that it started being cherished for the rare gem that it truly is. And that simply goes to show that it is all about allowing yourself to relish and appreciate a work of art when it is presented to you. Move with it, sway with it, laugh, dance and sing with it -- Savor the clever twists and turns. When this is done, you will grasp Down With Love, and it will be valued for the fine quality labor of love that it always was -- just waiting for you to see.
24 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
nymovielover196115 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry, but this movie was boring, annoying, disgusting, and all-together not worth seeing.

I only watched it because it was Valentine's Day and nothing else was on TV. I soon wanted to gouge my eyes out.

For all the great movies that Ewan McGregor has done, he should not do anything where he is supposed to appear charming and smile. With his mouth closed, not bad. But when he went to that horrible, fake toothy smile, my dog even snarled in disgust. I adore McGregor, but not in this movie.

Renee Zellweger was not bad, but for the most part, it was the plot's fault. Set in the '60s, in New York, I thought I would enjoy this movie because I want to live in 1960s New York. However, a good feeling could not be associated with this film.

The characters were obnoxious, over-played, and completely unreal. I am all for unrealistic, but the one thing that is a constant, unchanging reality, is human behavior, and these characters do not exhibit the qualities that most humans do. For example, most people do not walk with their hand in front of them, swinging in a circle like a pendulum.

The odd screwball at the end of this movie was also unreal. It turns out that Zellweger's character has devised a brilliant plan to capture Catcher Block (McGregor) so that he will love her. Most people would consider what Zellweger's character does to be creepy and stalking.

Most people would not, or even could not, create an elaborate plan to snare the perfect man or perfect woman, just the way that person would want them. Most people would take that person as they were and shut up about it.

This movie was unreal, and disconnected from all good human emotions. After that awkward ending number, I gave up on Valentine's Day and popped in Doctor Zhivago.
8 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Limp quips
moonspinner5528 December 2003
An intentionally corny 1960's-inspired bit of fluff pairing an early-version feminist with a handsome womanizer who works with a men's entertainment magazine. It's supposed to be "Pillow Talk", but Renee Zellweger isn't much of a latter-day Doris Day; she isn't cast right, or directed right, and her inflections and expressions are so questionable that when Ewan McGregor kisses and holds her, you have no idea what she's feeling. McGregor is miscast too, but manages to pull off a smarmy role with aplomb. David Hyde Pierce is a perfect third-banana (much as Tony Randall once was) and Tony Randall himself has a nice cameo--although it's shocking to see him looking so aged. The segues, music cues, split screens and elaborate sets are all snugly in place, but without the proper ingredients up front this send-up never quite clicks. ** from ****
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
As pink and silly as they come, but "Down with Love" is a fun romp
napierslogs30 January 2011
Meet Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) he's a "ladies man, man's man, man about town" type of guy, and Barbara (Renée Zellweger) is more of a man's woman, all decked in pink but independent. She wrote the book on how to live life without a man. Literally.

"Down with Love" is an ode to the sex films of the 1960s. Down to the fashions, feminism, and sex talk à la "Pillow Talk"(1959). It even stars Tony Randall too. It is a gorgeous film, with a lot of pink, a sexy leading man, and a lot of sexual innuendos. But compared to the Judd Apatow sex comedies of the 2000s, this is tame. Well silly and way over-the-top, but still pretty tame.

McGregor is gorgeous as the sexy leading man and Zellweger is pink-ified as the feminist leading woman. They have their fair share of sex jokes, gender stereotypes and ruses, but it's also really funny. "Down with Love" is a fun romp through 2003 disguised as 1962.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"Pillow Talk" was a hundred times more sophisticated than this!
ljp-218 May 2003
"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.
21 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Totally disappointing
audible24 May 2003
I totally agree with Mary on this one. I too was looking forward to seeing this movie and both my wife and I agreed, after seeing it, that any sophistication and comedic value of the 50's/60's comedies this was meant to parody was totally lost on the director. This was more like an in your face TV comedy with a big budget. It wouldn't have surprised me if there would have been a laugh track to tell us where to laugh! We went home and put on our DVD of Pillow Talk (1959) to ease the pain!

Instead of letting the audience in on the joke, the script left it to a 3 minute monologue at the end, leaving us with one (oh, yeh, that's funny) laugh. If the audience new the inside joke from the beginning I believe it would have been funnier throughout the movie as we would know what each character knows but the other doesn't.

The sets where generally great (except as noted below) and David Hyde Pierce was a standout as an actor who understands comedic acting and timing, unfortunately Ms. Zellweger and Mr. McGregor (two actors I admire) don't and must rely on good directing, this is where I place the blame on Mr. Reed. Sophisticated comedy should be played straight and left to the situation and witty repartee to bring out the humor instead of hitting us over our heads with it (did ya get it audience, did ya!). That may be fine for Ace Ventura or Austin Power movies where comedians can pull it off with great aplomb but not in a romantic comedy with actors who are not natural comedians. Given good direction a talented actor can do anything, an example is Rob Marshall's direction of Ms. Zellweger and all others in Chicago. But no amount of acting skills can overcome inept direction.

In general the costuming was excellent with the exception of the initial pink suit worn by Ms. Zellweger; the collar was so big it made her look like a frightened turtle, her head almost disappeared in one scene. Great effort was made to use original footage of New York but when the scene was in an apartment the skyline was very crudely painted mattes (did the budget run out?). It may have been intentional but for me it was too jarring. Tony Randall's character was just plain mean with no redeeming feature, what a waste.

All in all, with the exception of David Hyde Pierce and, to some extent, Sarah Paulson all the parts were caricatures. This movie was a great idea wasted by poor writing and very bad direction.
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A charming tribute to the screwball classics of yesteryear
The_Void9 December 2004
Down With Love is a love story, told in the ways of the classic Hollywood screwball comedy. The first thing you will notice about the film is the silly noises that go with the character's mannerisms, the garish fashions and the silly looks that many of the actor's exude. After about fifteen minutes, I was already starting to get bored of this and was expecting a very gruelling final eighty minutes; but I quickly got used to these aspects, and when the movie gets into full swing; you'll either be loving it or at least forgiving it's minor irritations. I was firmly on the side of the former, as although I'm predominantly a horror fan; I do have a soft spot for silly entertainment like this. But why not? What's not to like about a movie that will deliver ninety minutes or so of pure, enjoyable, entertainment? I'm not saying I don't like depth, but I am saying that I enjoy fun flicks.

Ewan McGreggor stars as Catcher Block, a ladies man, man's man, man about town who changes women as often as he changes his sweater. Ewan is one of my favourite actors; and he's a perfect choice to play the lead here. He exudes a sort of movie star charisma that the actors of yesteryear did gloriously, and it's nice to see him in a role that you'd never normally expect to see him in, as screwball comedy is out these days. Starring alongside Ewan is Renee Zellweger. As a result of the Bridget Jones films, I don't like Renee Zellweger much. Here, however; she's not bad, and like her co-star; a fine choice to play her role here. She plays Barbara Novak; one of those independent women, and one that has wrote a book about women not being able to function in the workplace properly and gives a way out of their predicament, which involves not falling in love. (No prizes for guessing what happens to her, then) The two make a nice on screen couple and their chemistry together is rather charming (much like the film itself). Excellent support is given to the two leads from Sarah Paulson, who does fine, and David Hyde Pierce, whom you might remember from some boring American TV rubbish.

The film is a lot of fun throughout, and despite the fact that it's in colour and stars modern day actors; it does manage to capture some of the atmosphere of the screwball classics of the fifties and early sixties. It's not deep and it's not complex, but it's feel good at it's best and recommended for that reason.
9 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Poor tribute
ken_bethell18 October 2009
It was after watching this poor tribute to a bygone era that I made a point of seeing 'Pillow Talk' again after 50 years for this Hudson/Day comedy classic is what was probably uppermost in the mind of the director when he embarked on this project. For the most part the humour of 'Love' was cringing as were the almost obligatory sexual connotations that every modern attempt at comedy seems to think it must have to be funny.Such references were not necessary in 'Pillow '( nor were they permitted) to obtain a laugh such were the engaging personalities of Day and Hudson. The inclusion of Tony Randall however, a doyen of movies of that era and genre, was a nice touch.David Hyde Pierce is and will always be Miles Crane, but as the silly-arse intellectual he has no equal. McGregor and Zellweger have done and will continue to do much better work.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
and it went on and on and on
SAMMUM8 October 2003
i nearly fell asleep watching this. Renne zelwegger was far to cheesy as the pink loving, fluffy clothed author and she was stupidly cast. Ewan Mcgregor was dissapointing but ok and overall this film was far to un original and lacked any decent plot or direction. It was definately not the worst film i have seen but it wasn't the greatest either

A huge dissapointment!!!!!!!!!! 4/10
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
ccgirl141131 July 2005
Down With Love was an excellent movie and will have you rolling on the floor with laughter! I loved every part of it! It was so fun to watch Catcher Block pretending to be Zip And Barbara try and resist him! Ewan McGregor did a wonderful job with this film (as I knew he would because he is an excellent actor and my favorite) It was a fun, and delighting film that you can watch over and over. Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger are the perfect people for this movie and fit wonderfully together! If you like a good comedy, romance, and a dramatic twist in the end movie this is the one for you!

10/10 stars!
10 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Down with "Down With Love"
extravaluejotter4 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film is so out-of-place and self-conscious that it's almost painful to watch at times. "Down With Love" shows that sometimes actors feel like turning up for work and getting paid just like the rest of us. The tone of the film lurches between carbon copy scenes from the sugary "Rots-Your-Teeth-As-You-Watch-It's-So-Sweet" Doris and Rock movies it claims to be "honouring" and lowbrow humour with a distinctly bitter, modern taste.

Ewan MacGregor puts in a stock "Cheeky Boy" performance. He seems to be enjoying himself in the role but I never found him convincing. In real life Rock Hudson was as gay as they make them, but he clearly had a chemistry with Doris Day and he always gave a good solid, masculine performance. MacGregor is certainly masculine in "Down With Love" but his usual screen presence is outshone by the "So-White-They-Look-Fake" gleam of his perfect teeth.

Poor Renee Zelwegger really struggles to give her role some depth but she is badly let down by a script that won't let her be one thing or another. Is she a feminist or is she an old-fashioned girl at heart? Frankly, who cares? Zelwegger has to try and play a 1960s version of Bridget Jones without the gently mocking commentary and it just doesn't work. The poor, poor woman is hampered at one point by a scene where she has to explain the whole of the plot, on her own, in a single shot. It would have been less painful to watch her try and carry a bag of cement up a spiral staircase whilst wearing high heels. By the end of this scene, I was squirming in embarrassment on her behalf. It felt like it was never going to end and I could feel other moviegoers tensing in their seats as they watched her. All around the cinema, faces were illuminated by the soft glow of watches as we all began to wonder when the ushers were going to open the doors and let us out.

The sign of a truly awful film is that moment when the characters have to explain what's going on to the audience. Not only did poor Renee have to do this, but she was forced to do it in the style of a 1950s public information film announcer.

This film sucks. Even appearances by Tony Randall, David Hyde Pierce and the luminous Jeri Ryan couldn't save it. Tacking a ghastly musical number onto the end just added insult to injury. What were the producers thinking? Did all the money for the film come from little old ladies and were the producers planning a "Springtime For Hitler" con job? In that case, why hire MacGregor and Zelwegger to front it? Nothing about "Down With Love" makes any sense.

Down with Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake (the so-called "Writers") and director (in the loosest of terms) Peyton Reed, I say. Reed in particular should stick to re-makes of already mediocre Disney films and leave satire, pastiche and homage to the grown-ups.
8 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Avoid This Film!!
TBear60008 October 2003
I am a fan of classic movies and I LOVED the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films. So I eagerly looked forward to seeing this film. If done right, I'm not opposed to "remakes". But this film is a perfect example of why so many people are. It's difficult to imagine how this film could've been worse. Aside from a few borrowed plot devices and being set in the same era, this film had nothing in common with the Day/Hudson films. The whole point of those films was that Day was an innocent, decent, "good-girl" while Hudson was the womanizing playboy. They was exact opposites, which is why she was so appalled by his life style, and why he eventually ended up falling in love with her (because she was so different from the girls he dated). In "Down With Love", Zellweger's character is going around telling women to sleep with any man they meet. It could hardly be more different.

I felt that Zellweger's acting was fake and over-the-top. McGregor was much better at pulling off a Rock Hudson like character, especially when he was portraying Zip Martin. But, overall, the whole first half of the film was so badly done it seemed almost cartoonish. It was like a bad "Saturday Night Live" skit.

However, what I found the most disturbing were the MANY "off-color" sex jokes. Sure, the Day/Hudson films had some sexual innuendoes in them, but there were usually subtle and infused into the plot. In "Down With Love" the jokes were more they just innuendo. They were obvious, trashy, crass, crude, offensive, and completely gratuitous. It seemed they used any excuse to throw in a dirty joke every few minutes.

The only bright spot in this film was the excellent performance given by the always wonderful David Hyde Pierce. His portrayal of Tony Randall's character was dead on. To sum up, avoid this film at all costs!! It's not even worth the price to rent it. If you long for the feel of those great early 60s romantic comedies, go watch "Pillow Talk" or "Lover Come Back" because "Down With Love" doesn't even come close.
7 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Unfunny and pretentious... a dull pic
jofitz2726 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
*This review, heaven forbid, contains a small spoiler*

Gosh, who could have predicted a romantic comedy worse than "Intolerable Cruelty" the picture that lost the Coen's much respect? You couldn't. This, coupled with the fact that "Down with Love" got some excellent reviews, left me sourly disappointed.

So, in this dry effort, Ewan Mgregor plays bachelor "catcher block" a man who stands up newly formed editor (Renee Zellwegger). This makes her angry. So she writes a really good book. Block gets angry, and wants her destroyed. Dogs have tails. Yawn. So he pretends to be an astronaut. Good plan, eh? Not quite. During a little bit of "love" his true identity is revealed, so she dumps him. Then, in an utterly schmaltzy ending, she finds herself and does the right thing. OK... Down with love is a disappointing, unfunny, UNORIGINAL "comedy" that is just plain dull. Avoid it, whatever critics say. This is a terrible, terrible film.

* out of ***** (1 out of 5)
5 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Terrible, Terrible Film
poisontheewell18 May 2003
I have to start off by saying that my opinion of this film may be a bit tainted, because I am a man, and this movie was definitely made for the humans with chromosomes, xx. This movie was bad, even for a chick flick. I got suckered into this movie, because it was my friend's birthday, and this is what she wanted to see.

This movie plays off every stereotype imaginable, both within the genre of romantic comedy and in the era it is set in. As in true romantic comedy fashion the characters both work at a magazine. Who could believe it? Renee actually doesn't really start at one, but she does at the end. Also, both of the main characters are tricking the other one. How many times has this been done before? Then at the end after the girl gets mad at the guy she comes to her senses and ends up with him at the end. Truly original (sense the sarcasm.

This movie also plays off every stereotype that you can imagine from the 1960s. The sets are awful. The acting is awful. This is awful. Truly, truly awful.

Not only is this movie unoriginal and the story has been done a thousand times before, I have to point out a specific scene in the movie. This is when Zellwiger is telling off Ewan. Her speech is about 4 minutes long, containing run on sentences and you are only left getting lost in what she is talking about. You lose her after about 30 seconds.

In Conclusion, this movie is terrible, even for a "chick flick." Many times during the film I was hanging my head in shame and just anticipating the end. I found myself truly laughing once in the entire movie and it delt with a MAD Magazine. Don't waste your time on this rubbish.
6 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed