More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.76%
Average: 15.84%
Pretty Bad: 15.84%
Total Crap: 3.96%

8 reviews, 53 user ratings

Down with Love
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Hey, look, we can make a movie that looks like an old movie!"
4 stars

"Down with Love" is essentially just one long joke, but it's such a sunny, good-natured one that only with great grumpy effort, I suspect, could one succeed in not enjoying it.

It is shot in the style of the Rock Hudson/Doris Day romantic comedies of the early 1960s, complete with deliciously retro sets and costumes and arch, kitschy dialogue. But it is a parody of that style more than an homage to it, skewing its conventions for a modern, more aware audience. For example, a split-screen phone conversation -- that hallmark of "modern" filmmaking that early-'60s directors loved so much -- is turned humorously filthy in a way that makes you wonder if the Austin Powers people shouldn't be suing for copyright infringement.

Renee Zellweger, cuter than ever, plays Barbara Novak, a Maine writer whose book "Down with Love" -- which teaches women how to behave like men, i.e., have sex all they want without getting emotionally attached -- rockets to the top of the bestseller list and makes her the worship of all women and the scorn of all men. (Her advice includes making women co-equals, hence the male resentment.)

This is 1962, and liberated, independent women are still very much the minority. Doing all he can to continue subjugating them is Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor), a swinging James Bond type who writes for a men's magazine called Know and has a stable of stewardesses he sleeps with in regular rotation. He sets out to beat Barbara at her own game by making her fall in love with him despite her love-is-bad philosophy. To that end, he plays the part of an innocent hayseed named Zip Martin and woos her, refusing to have sex with her unless and until they are married.

Directed with subversive wit by Peyton Reed ("Bring It On") and written by TV scribes Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake, the film manages to be both old-fashioned and dirty at the same time, taking the teasy sexuality and chaste double-entendres of the 1960s and reworking them into something modern audiences will find naughty indeed. That maneuver is clearly successful: The film has only one mild profanity and no nudity, yet still richly earns its PG-13 rating.

Zellweger and McGregor are charming indeed, and they are backed up by an amusing secondary romance between their characters' best friends, played by David Hyde Pierce and Sarah Paulson. Pierce, in particular, does what the character in his situation is supposed to do: get the biggest laughs.

The immediate comparison with this film is "Far From Heaven," which duplicated another genre of the mid-20th century, that of the weepy tragic melodrama. Where "Far From Heaven" succeeded, however, is where "Down with Love" falls short. That film's genius was in telling a relatable, honest story even while utilizing a highly stylized form of acting. This film gets the style right, but the story it tells is identical to the sort we see -- and are tired of -- in modern romantic comedies. A lot of effort has gone into getting the look and feel right, but at times it looks and feels like nothing more than an exercise, like telling someone to duplicate "Pillow Talk" as a class assignment.

Still, I must return to my original assessment, that the high-spirited merriment is hard not to like, and the performances are smart and charismatic. It is not as funny as a satire of this nature ought to be, but satire is tricky, comedy is hard, and "Down with Love" occasionally gets them both sort of right.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/05/03 17:04:01
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/05/18 Suzanne This movie aces the sixties. What a delight! 5 stars
2/20/11 Ark Fun! Brilliant colors, plus that monologue of hers at the end ROCKS! 4 stars
7/12/09 the dork knight Hope you like sex-related puns. Only DHP saves it. 3 stars
10/01/07 Mable Cowpie A nice parody of the era - entertaining 4 stars
12/16/06 Ika Brilliant! The Actors, the plot, the movie! Awesome! 5 stars
10/27/06 Rio Was great up until they decided that love was good. 3 stars
6/11/05 Lucy Catcher Block Rocks my Socks! 5 stars
5/28/05 Lacey Very well done, flawless casting, great twist at the end. 5 stars
4/30/05 Alyson I say the best romantic comedy since Grease! 5 stars
9/23/04 Temenouzhka Zaharieva - ID and journalist According to the quality os set design my rating is 5 5 stars
9/15/04 random* fantastic send-up- um, fellow commenters, you missed the joke 5 stars
7/08/04 Denise Duspiva Pathetic all that to get a guy 2 stars
6/04/04 Elizabeth Jewell Everything this woman accomplished was for love of this jerk? Say it ain't so. 2 stars
5/30/04 The More You Know The pepto bismol film formula always makes me nauseous. 1 stars
5/07/04 Amy Wardle It was funny in a way that it was so lame you had to laugh. 2 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt A smart, fun, stylish, and underrated film! 4 stars
2/16/04 Jim Michaels Satirizes the 60's uptight, yet zany style without succumbing to derision or delusion. 5 stars
1/25/04 Ryan Think that is was just awesome! Perfect casting... 5 stars
10/08/03 Sarah Attention dumb people, this movie is a remake of Pillow Talk (1959) 4 stars
10/06/03 Ali Ali Oxygen Free Renee Zellweger&Ewan McGregor ain't no Doris Day&Rock Hudson! No way! Nohow! 2 stars
10/05/03 Stephanie Throckmorton Wanders into all territory, none that it doesn't see fit to overkill. 2 stars
10/03/03 Troy Butler 4.5 stars, ... a great fun movie!!! If only more romantic comedies were made this well!!! 5 stars
9/22/03 Ray Loved it! Up with Down With Love! Doris and Rock would have got a chuckle out of it too! 5 stars
9/02/03 chloe I LOVED it and didn't expect to at all, now I'm hunting out the old Doris Day films 5 stars
8/20/03 murphy daniels snif snif sooo bewdiful 5 stars
8/17/03 Nicole Absolutely fantastic 5 stars
8/15/03 Paul Dempsey When a Hollywpod star promotes film in Oz you know it's a dud. 2 stars
8/13/03 Nancy295 Fun but not the real thing. Ewan and Renee should work together again. 4 stars
7/25/03 Kelly Attention dumb people:Ewan & Renee are NOT SUPPOSED to be playing Rock & Doris! 5 stars
7/20/03 Verbal Me Excellent movie, refreshing and hilarious! 5 stars
7/12/03 ali ali oxygen free Renee Zellweger&Ewan McGregor ain't no Doris Day&Rock Hudson! No way! Nohow! 2 stars
7/11/03 Stephanie Throckmorton Wanders into all territory, none that it doesn't see fit to overkill. 2 stars
7/09/03 natasha_theobald witty, well-acted, briskly paced, good when it's naughty fun 5 stars
6/29/03 Titus As a romatic comedy, this is absolutely tops. Great script 5 stars
6/11/03 Brannie Herez Brannie, This movie looks sooo bad that i wont even bother to pay for movie tickets. 1 stars
6/03/03 E. Allen This was a fantastic movie! It kept me smiling long after I left the theater! 5 stars
5/31/03 San Alexandra Great mavie! I loved the whole back in the 60's thing even though i'm only 14. 5 stars
5/29/03 Emily I love Ewan, this was a great movie! 5 stars
5/28/03 Dalian et rae Read the book -- this works more in literary format 3 stars
5/27/03 wintermute A pretty package with nothing inside 2 stars
5/24/03 Full Throtle Ahead Really funny movie! Everything about it was great! 5 stars
5/24/03 Nancy Niedzielski call me a hopelessly Down-with-Love girl, but this was a waste of 94 minutes of my life 2 stars
5/22/03 peter nnnnnnnnnn 1 stars
5/22/03 Todd something you could sit through 3 stars
5/22/03 Jai I never thought this movie would be as good as it was! 5 stars
5/21/03 Emmy Really great and funny! 5 stars
5/21/03 Kim (not Novak) Excellent--a silly movie for smart people. Perfect from start to finish. 5 stars
5/20/03 Dick BAD 1 stars
5/20/03 Rover Brilliant!! Funny! DHP is awesome! 5 stars
5/19/03 Michelle B Loved it. Ewan and Renee are hilarious. 5 stars
5/19/03 v.e.r. rz &emc were both terrific in playing their roles also the film was very amusung. 4 stars
5/19/03 holli I'll never again be satisfied with predictable, lifeless, modern day romantic comedies! 5 stars
5/18/03 George Jung Holy fucking movie of the fucking year so fucking far. Fucking amazing. 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  16-May-2003 (PG-13)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast