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.
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
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