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Down With Love /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Renee Zellweger, Sarah Paulson, Rachel Dratch, David Hyde Pierce 

Directed by: Peyton Reed 

Produced by: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks 

Written by: Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake 

Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox


Movie Image
Movie Image
Movie Image

      Generally, it’s very easy to make a romantic comedy. The screenwriter just plugs their characters into the formula plot. But to make a film, which abides by the rules of this genre, with style and flair is unheard of. Adding in a great ending twist to the mix is even more insane. Down With Love brilliantly executes, and goes the extra mile, by mixing and matching a blend of sugar and spice that consists of the three traits a screenwriter must have to deliver a descent script—creativity, ingenuity, and the ability to take risks. Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake, the man and woman behind all of the witty wording and cute lines, make Down With Love the movie that it is. But, of course, the visionary direction and great performances help quite a bit, too.

     Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) is a feminist writer, who is determined to show ladies of all sorts, that they don’t need love to satisfy their needs. In her book, Down With Love, she discusses how marriage and long-term relationships just aren’t worthwhile. But this isn’t to say that they shouldn’t have sex lives, however. Novak wants to convince the world that women can treat sex just like men. They don’t have to love the man that they are having intercourse with, to get pleasure out of it. All they need to do is allow themselves to accept the good feeling without being attached to their partner, and of course, keep repopulating the world with other little girls that will continue this tradition.

     But, while her book jumps off of the shelves like crazy, trouble is a brewing. She falls in love with a man, who she would like to spend the rest of her life with. What she doesn’t know, though, is that he is really Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor). Catcher is disguising himself as Barbara’s true love, because he is a hungry columnist for a men’s magazine, and would like to write an exposé on Miss Novak’s real personal love life. Will Barbara continue to fall for him, or will she be able to stick to what she preaches in her book, and simply play him for some nice pleasure? The story, which might seem formulaic, is lit up by a scrumptious ending twist. The writing is so tastefully pleasing; most won’t even guess that Down With Love is a remake. Even I didn’t know, until reading up on the production. 

     While it twists and turns, fancies us with delicious dialogue, and sets the mood for the time which it takes place in; the writing in Down With Love has even more to offer. The little, quirky bits of humor help tremendously. This movie is an early 1960’s piece, and it plays out exactly like one. The jokes are written in exactly the same way they were in that time period, and this is what makes the film so extraordinarily funny. The way that the writer’s, Ahlert and Drake, words glisten about the movie so beautifully, is really, an incredible achievement, nonetheless. I’ve said it a million times, but I’ll pound it into your helpless noggins one more; the creative script is what makes Down With Love the movie that it is. As the character Barbara Novak would say, “It’s as pleasing for a woman as chocolate.” To be honest, I’ve never heard a warped line of movie dialogue, that was so right. (20th Century Fox—I’m always available for that marketing job you’ve got on hand.)

     What would a good early ‘60’s script be without some quality direction, either? Nothing. I must say, what director Peyton Reed does behind the camera is pretty miraculous. It’s his work on the film, aside from the top-notch writing, which makes it so enjoyable. Down With Love is one of those well-made flicks that you can just sit back and relax to. The reason you are able to do such is simply because it’s done properly. There are no shaky shots, bland moments, or repetitive one-liners to deal with. Treat yourself to some fifteen dollar popcorn, a coke, and a few peanut M&M’s and you’ll be having a great time. Viewing Down With Love is like eating a good meal at a nice restaurant. By the end of the film, you’ll have licked your plate clean.

     Zellweger and McGregor are fabulous, and each of their performances is flawless. The two leading roles, which could’ve been ugly miscasts, are filled by the right peoples shoes (or more accurately, costume designer Daniel Orlandi’s). Zellweger delivers a performance, pitch-perfect, for what it serves. She is funny, cute, and charismatic. Nominated for ‘Best Actress’, and the star of many successful movies, Zellweger really doesn’t get enough credit. She is a very talented and appealing actress. Her co-star, McGregor, also plays his cards right. His character is the best-written of the bunch, and he is able to shine in the role. Onscreen, the duo is a knockout. They share the screen beautifully, and star in a movie that is sweetly cooked to perfection.

     Superbly entertaining, Down With Love is a wonderful trip through early ‘60’s cinema, and a very enjoyable one at that. Ahlert and Drake’s writing is a creative and often ingenious adaptation of the real 1960’s film. Reed’s direction sets the mood and tone just fine, and proves that a well-made film is much easier to view than a choppy one of the same sort. Zellweger and McGregor excellently perform, and exhibit an extreme amount of chemistry. Down With Love is just a great flick. To quote the old-and-overused cliché, “Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!”

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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