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Renée Zellwegger Nightmare
in pink
A great cast, including Renée Zellwegger, is wasted
in an ill conceived tribute to '60s sex vs. marriage movies

"Down with Love"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

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Meant as an homage to '60s bedroom farces that starred the likes of Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall (who makes a cameo here), "Down with Love" stars Renée Zellwegger as Barbara Novak, a young librarian from the wilds of Maine who comes to New York City to meet the editor (Sarah Paulson) and publisher (Randall) of her book, "Down With Love," a treatise on how women can liberate themselves from the tyranny of men and love.

Ewan McGregor
According to Novak, women can lead better lives by following simple rules that will have them treating love in the same way that men do; that sex can and should be had with men who they don't love, but only after weaning themselves of the need for men by abstaining from sex altogether and using chocolate as a substitute (don't ask).

Playboy, man-about-town and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) means to derail Novak's train after her book becomes a monster bestseller and influences women everywhere. He concocts a plan to expose her as a fraud by making her fall in love with him and desire marriage, which would prove that is what every woman desires. He just doesn't count on falling in love with her.

Of course, the vile sexual stereotypes of the 1960s are ridiculed here, but director Peyton Reed (who did the much better "Bring It On") botches it, and winds up reinforcing some of them unintentionally. Meant to pay homage to the goofy movies of the '60s (such as "Pillow Talk") or perhaps lampoon them, it writes its strokes in a broad palette of color and shape, and does a good job of recreating the era.

DVD notes

The DVD contains commentary from director Peyton Reed, a music video featuring Renee Zellwegger and Ewan MacGregor singing a duet (and they both actually sign quite well), a blooper reel, featurettes on the costuming, set design, and the making of the movie, deleted scenes and a "TV Clip" that was a scene from the movie packaged as a TV clip that frankly, doesn't really have a reason to take up space on the disc. Still, it's got a fairly nifty amount of good features. It's one of those cases where the content of the disc actually surpasses the quality of the movie.

However, there is a lot of sexual innuendo that is much more modern than in movies of that era, and that doesn't help the movie. In a lot of ways, the movie is a mess that really doesn't seem to know quite what it wants to do. Good performances by McGregor and David Hyde Pierce as his best friend MacManus are wasted by an onslaught of clichés and truly awful jokes.

I managed to sit through all of it, but just barely. Despite an interesting premise and good performances, it drowns in its own libido.

Watching this at home allows viewers to use the fast-forward button appropriately. Use it wisely.
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See cast, credit and other details about "Down with Love" at Internet Movie Data Base.