Down With Love (3)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


 In 1962 Barbara Novak (Renée Zellweger) writes a bestselling work of non-fiction.  Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) stiffs her when she tries to get him to write a pre publication article on it for the magazine owned by Peter McMannus (David Hyde Pierce).  When she becomes a celebrity due to the success of the book, Block masquerades as a naïve foreigner (who knows what that accent is that he sports?) and sets out to woo, win, expose, and destroy her.

 This movie proves the truth of the hackneyed adage, “they don’t make them like they used to.”  While Down With Love is clearly a clumsy homage to Pillow Talk, the Rock Hudson-Doris Day classic from 1959, it pales in comparison.  Pillow Talk contained scintillating double entendres.  The double entendres in Down With Love are coarse and vulgar.  Pillow Talk contained clever split screen shots of Day and Hudson talking on the telephone.  The split screen shots of Zellweger and McGregor in Down With Love simulate them engaging in every type of sex act known to man and woman.  They are, in a word, repulsive.

 Another adage validated by this film is “Clothes don’t make the woman.”   I’m a big Renée Zellweger fan.  But here, even though she dresses like Doris Day and reads lines that might have been written for Doris, Renée is no Doris.  And Ewan McGregor is no Rock Hudson.  McGregor is so miscast in the role of a roué that he destroys what little chance this had to be an entertaining movie, which, to be truthful, given the vacuous script, credited to Dennis Drake and Eve Ahlert, and inept directing by Peyton Reed, wasn’t much.  There’s more chemistry between McGregor and David Hyde Pierce than there is between McGregor and Zellweger.  In fact, McGregor reminded me of the 150-pound weakling who was always having sand kicked in his face in the Charles Atlas ads of the ‘50s.

 There are only two good things I can say about this film.  First is that the recreation of the late ‘50s fashion is well done, and the second is the presence, however fleeting, of Tony Randall, who was in the real movie.  I just wonder if he read the script before he agreed to contribute to this debacle.

 To be fair, I saw it in an audience dominated by seniors, and they laughed.  Lucky them; I saw nothing that caused me to even crack a smile.  The running time for this is 110 minutes; too long, but it seemed much, much longer.  Unfortunately the best part of the movie is a dance performed by McGregor and Zellweger over the closing credits.  If you want to see this film, if it starts at, let’s say 7:00 p.m., I suggest that you arrive at 8:45 p.m..  That way you can see the dance number and not miss anything.

May 17, 2003

 The End