They don’t get much frothier than 2003’s Down with Love. A bit of an orphan in more ways than one, Down with Love is both a pastiche of and loving homage to the Rock Hudson/Doris Day films of the 60s that you never new you wanted a pastiche/homage to (homiche?). But you don’t have to familiar with those films to find something to love in this film, complete as it is with jaw-dropping fashion, delightfully ludicrous plotting and four excellent, entirely self-aware performances. Despite being directed by Peyton Reed (director of your all-time favorite cheerleader film, Bring it On), it underperformed at the box office and just quietly slipped out of the public consciousness.
And why? It’s cute, it’s funny, and it’s exceedingly well done.
Small-town girl Barbara Novak rolls into swinging, sexist New York city with a book deal under her belt and a world to own. Her manifesto is dedicated to teaching women how to enjoy commitment-free sex, her thesis being that the moment women realize they don’t need to be in love to enjoy sex, they’ll become the equal of men. Catcher Block, a hunky ladies’ man reporter, dedicates himself to bringing Novak down by making her fall in love with him… by pretending to be a chaste astronaut. Novak’s and Block’s editors both get tangled up in the scheme and, ultimately, all four find happiness and some measure of equality.
Renée Zellweger can be a marmite-y actress (you love her or you hate her), but she’s charming as Barbara Novak - although occasionally out-acted by the brilliant Sarah Paulson as Vikki, her neurotic editor. The same is true for Ewan McGregor’s predatory Catcher Block; he’s completely irresistible, (and incredibly hot) but, like Zellweger, occasionally overshadowed by the scene-stealing David Hyde Pierce.
If you like your hair flipped and your comebacks snappy, you could do worse than Down with Love.
Hot guys: Ewan! David! And some excellent horn-rimmed glasses!
Period costume: want.
Forbidden sexytimes: This is a film about anticipation and innuendo. And there’s a lot of both.
Other movie review things: good dialogue, good acting - utterly incomprehensible plot.
The Last Word: The dialogue is quick, the fashion makes me weep with desire, and the dudes are really, really good looking.Down with Love is a gem ripe for rediscovery. Vintagedudes says check it out.