It’s not often that you’ll see a negative movie review from me because I choose to focus on the positive and recommend films I feel good about putting my name on. But every so often, a movie so totally irks me, I find I must raise my voice and vent just how irked I am. Such is the case with the 2003 film, “Down with Love.”
I love Ewan McGregor and I love Renee Zellweger. When I saw the description for this film on Netflix, which reads in part, “But love has a way of sneaking up on even the unlikeliest pairs in this tribute to the classic Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedies,” I thought for sure I enjoy the film, also being a fan of Day-Hudson.
We got off to a great start. The credits were even vintage, using the logos that the film companies used in the 1960’s. The costuming was great down to the beehive hairdos and the hats and gloves. And the premise was adorable. Zellweger stars as Barbara Novak, a young lady who has written a book called “Down with Love.” It’s her feeling that women no longer need men in order to be fulfilled, and that women can achieve just as much, and more, as men in the work place. This causes a great stir in New York City as her book hits #1 on the bestseller list and women everywhere become emancipated.
McGregor stars as Catcher Block, hit reporter for Know Magazine and absolute ladies’ man. When he’s assigned to interview Barbara for the magazine, he decides he doesn’t want anything to do with an embittered feminist and puts her off repeatedly. This irritates her, she denounces him on national television, and the battle of wits begins. Catcher decides to write an expose on her and poses as a shy, naïve young man in the hopes of tricking her into falling in love with him. What he doesn’t plan on is falling in love with her, as well.
This all sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Well, it would have been, but this film was absolutely filled with crass innuendo. They couldn’t just tell the story—they had to fill it with every sexual pun and gag they could come up with. They even took advantage of split screen technology during a phone conversation to place the two characters in some extremely compromising positions that had there not been a split screen would have garnered this film an R rather than a PG-13.
This storyline had such great potential. The stars were all wonderful, the acting was great, and we’re even treated at the end to a musical number starring Zellweger and McGregor, calling upon their talents as shown in their previous films “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge.” If the writers had left out the never-ending innuendo, the film really would have harked back to the days of Doris and Rock, and it would have been perfectly charming. As it stands, I felt like I was lured in by the promise of a good movie and ended up with a pie in my face instead.
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