Watching "Down With Love" was a bit of a frustrating experience for me. It falls somewhere between an homage and a parody of 1960's sex comedies that, most successfully, starred Doris Day. From the standpoint of an homage the film, mostly, succeeds. As a parody, it fails. What is impressive about the film is its attention to detail. The clothes, sets, color-scheme, widescreen cinematography (telephone call splits, etc.), and the New York City stock footage were incredibly accurate. Marc Shaiman's score was fairly perfect, as well. While the cast, mostly, impresses, especially David Hyde Pierce playing a role that Tony Randall did in many Doris Day films (and playing it like Randall), it mostly gets ruined by Rene Zellweger's take on the lead role. She never rings true, and she comes off as if she's in a completely different film from the rest of the cast (her performance accounts for most of the parody aspect of the film). The story, itself, is no better or worse (well, maybe slightly worse), that those done in the 60's with Miss Day. The BIG (and it is enormous) difference here is that Zellweger is NO Doris Day. She comes off like a little girl pretending to be a grown-up. She just doesn't have the 'stuff' to deliver the silliness of the film. Now, in all fairness, my problems with Zellweger, may be more by comparison to Doris Day, a comparison I cannot avoid. Others, who never saw one of these Doris Day films, may find her perfectly acceptable. I couldn't get past her inability to pull off the lines without making them sound like she was making fun of those old films (McGregor and the rest of the cast avoid this), and her vamping and exaggerated facial expressions are out of place. My other issue with her is that she is, facially, a bit of a train wreck to me. I find her utterly unattractive and, once again, comparing her in the physical attributes department to Miss Day, she loses. Doris Day had one of, if not THE greatest figure on any woman, ever, in Hollywood. Zellweger's figure is just okay, and facially, she looks like she's been punched a few times and is on high doses of prescription drugs. And, what's up with those pursed lips???? Her physicality has much to do with the film. Every other woman in the film is more attractive than the leading lady. In a Doris Day film, while there were, certainly, other attractive ladies in them, they were never MORE attractive than Day. And, in a sex-comedy, the attractiveness of its stars is key. Ewan McGregor is just fine in his performance, and he, stylishly, looks the part, although I did find him to be a bit on the puny side, and he kept reminding me of Charlie Sheen. He doesn't cut the same figure as some of Day's co-stars, Cary Grant, James Garner, Rock Hudson or Rod Taylor, for example; but he's far more talented than Zellweger in the acting department, and what he lacks in physical presence (his puniness and he has a bit of a blemished face), he makes-up for in his demeanor. Secondary leads David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson actually steal the film from its stars, and aptly support them, as well (the only time the leads are bearable is when they are paired with Pierce or Paulson. Together they are dull). The sex jokes are all of the overt variety. Day and company were always far too clever for that. The problem I have with the film, is that, while I can watch a Doris Day film, at the drop of a hat, and always enjoy them (no matter how many times I've seen them), I cannot imagine ever watching this film again. With a different leading lady and a straight-on approach to the material I would have liked this movie. As it is, it's a curiosity piece on how well they handled material that was a big part of my early movie-going experience. Overall, they succeeded.
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