Down with Love

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Down with Love
Down with Love.jpg
Down with Love movie poster
Directed by Peyton Reed
Produced by Dan Jinks
Bruce Cohen
Written by Eve Ahlert
Dennis Drake
Starring Renée Zellweger
Ewan McGregor
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Jeff Cronenweth
Editing by Larry Bock
Studio Fox 2000 Pictures
Regency Enterprises
Jinks/Cohen Company
Mediastream Dritte Film
Epsilon
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • May 9, 2003 (2003-05-09) (New York)
  • May 16, 2003 (2003-05-16) (US wide)
  • August 14, 2003 (2003-08-14) (AUS)
  • October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03) (UK & IRL)
Running time 94 min.
Country United States
Germany
Language English
Budget $78 million
Box office $39,468,111 (Worldwide)[1]

Down with Love is a 2003 romantic comedy film, made as a pastiche of and homage to the early 1960s American romantic sex comedies. It was directed by Peyton Reed and stars Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.

The story follows a woman who advocates female independence in combat with a lothario, and patriarchal, even male chauvinist, society of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Plot[edit]

New in New York City, Barbara Novak arrives at Banner House to present her new work, Down with Love, a book the intent of which is to free women from love, teach them to enjoy sex without commitment, and to replace the need for a man with things such as chocolate. Following her rules would, she believes, help to give women a boost in the workplace and in the world in general.

The men who run Banner House refuse to support the book. The only way Vikki Hiller, Barbara's editor, can find to promote the book is for Barbara to meet Catcher Block – a successful writer for the magazine Know and a notorious "ladies' man, man's man, man about town" – but he avoids her repeatedly by postponing their dates until she gets fed up, insults him, and walks out.

Catcher's boss and best friend, Peter MacMannus, and Vikki take a liking to one another. However, their relationship revolves around Barbara and Catcher, and neither is brave enough to express their feelings for the other. Peter feels overshadowed by Catcher's strong personality, and Vikki wants to see emotional commitment in her lover. She even assumes Peter must be gay due to his perceived lack of interest.

Barbara starts promoting her book with Vikki's help, and things take off when they get Judy Garland to sing the song "Down with Love" as a promotion to the book on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sales skyrocket, as housewives and women around the world buy the book and rebel against their men; Catcher now wants to meet Barbara, but now it is she who rejects him.

It all comes to a boiling point when Barbara appears on a national TV show talking about a chapter from the book – "The Worst Kind of Man" – and cites Catcher Block as the perfect example. His date rejects him, which infuriates him. Catch swears he will prove Barbara is the same as every other woman, wanting the same things men do.

He arranges for a casual meeting at a dry cleaner shop, taking advantage of the fact that Barbara has never met or seen him, and he poses as an astronaut, Major Zip Martin, attentive and polite. Barbara appears to be immediately infatuated with this man who seemingly has no idea who she is, in contrast to men who now avoid her, viewing her as the enemy since the publication of her book.

"Zip" takes her to the most fashionable locations in New York while maintaining considerable sexual tension between them by feigning naivete and a desire to remain chaste until he is "ready" for a physical relationship. But he starts falling for her, and it gets harder to go through with his plan.

When Barbara finds Catcher/Zip at a party he is almost caught out, and decides it is time to take everything to the next level: he tells Barbara that Catcher Block wants to interview him for an exposé on the NASA space program and asks her to accompany him. It is his own apartment, and he sets everything up to record her saying she loves him. But then it is she who reveals the truth: she knew he was really Catcher from the beginning, but she also lied as she is not Barbara Novak but Nancy Brown, once one of Catcher's many secretaries, who fell in love with him while working at Know, but who turned him down when he asked her out because she did not want to be just another one in his long list of romances.

She tells him she did this to be different from all the women he knew, and make him love her. They both realize that Catcher does love her, but as he is proposing, one of his many lovers appears and thanks Barbara for what she's done for womankind. Barbara realizes that she does not want love or him as she has become a real "down with love" girl. Vikki and Peter's relationship also changes when she insults him for helping Catcher. Peter realizes he is indeed like any other man and takes Vikki to Catcher's apartment to take things to the next level.

Days later, Catcher is completely depressed; all his efforts to win Barbara back have failed. Even his exposé is ruined now that Barbara has told her story in her own magazine, Now. Peter is also depressed as his relationship with Vikki is now apparently based only on sex. Catcher realizes he can do something and writes a new exposé "How Falling In Love With Barbara Novak Made Me A New Man". He learns there is an opening at Now and goes for an interview with her. There, he tells her how much she changed him, and it is obvious she wants him but turns him down anyway; he says he wished there could be a middle ground for them "somewhere between a blonde and a brunette", referring to her real persona, where she was a brunette.

As he is leaving her office, he realizes she is not coming after him, but she surprises him on the elevator, showing him a bright red hair style: she has found the middle ground and she wants to be with him. They fly to Vegas to get married, influencing Vikki and Peter, who also decide to get married.

The end credits show their marriage has resulted in a new book intended to end the battle of the sexes. The pair end by singing "Here's To Love".

Cast[edit]

Style[edit]

The film is an affectionate pastiche of the sex comedies of the early 1960s with Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Tony Randall, such as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back. Randall played the third lead in all three Day-Hudson films and has a cameo role in Down With Love, playing the owner of Novak's publishing house, as an homage to the previous films. It was to be his final screen performance. The film also features David Hyde Pierce (playing the typical Randall role as the somewhat nerdy best friend), Sarah Paulson, Rachel Dratch and Jeri Ryan in supporting roles.

The sets, costumes, cinematography, editing, score, opening credits, and visual effects (including split-screen shots during phone calls heavily laced with double entendres between the two leads), are carefully designed to echo the style of 1960s comedies. The New York City skyline of 1962 was digitally recreated for backdrops. A greenscreen technique was used to simulate unconvincing 1960s rear projection using restored street footage from the late 1950s and early 1960s. The film begins with the 1960s logos for 20th Century Fox and for CinemaScope, a wide-screen process introduced in the 1950s, developed and owned by 20th Century Fox. The Regency Enterprises logo is in pink, and contains a saxophone jazz rendition of its theme.

Reception and box office[edit]

Down with Love received 60% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert spoke of the film fairly positively, saying parts were "fun", and describing Zellweger's speech at the end as "a torrent of words [pouring] out from her character's innermost soul".[3] The film underperformed, making less than $40 million at the box office worldwide.[1]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film's title comes from the song "Down with Love" as sung by Judy Garland, who is seen singing it on The Ed Sullivan Show in one scene.

The song "Here's to Love" sung by Zellweger and McGregor during the closing credits (and in its entirety on the DVD release as a special feature) was a last-minute addition to the film. Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman appear in the number as the pianist and the barman, respectively. According to the DVD commentary, it was added at the suggestion of Ewan McGregor, who pointed out the opportunity the filmmakers had to unite the stars of two recently popular musical films (his Moulin Rouge! and Zellweger's Chicago).

The songs "Kissing A Fool" and "For Once In My Life", sung by Michael Bublé, previously appeared on Bublé's 2003 self-titled album.

Track list[edit]

Soundtrack cover (2003)
  1. Down with Love - Michael Bublé and Holly Palmer
  2. Barbara Arrives - Marc Shaiman
  3. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) (Count Basie And His Orchestra) - Frank Sinatra
  4. One Mint Julep - Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra
  5. For Once In My Life - Michael Bublé
  6. Girls Night Out - Marc Shaiman
  7. Everyday Is A Holiday With You - Esthero
  8. Kissing A Fool - Michael Bublé
  9. Barbara Meets Zip - Marc Shaiman
  10. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) - Astrud Gilberto
  11. Love in Three Acts - Marc Shaiman
  12. Here's To Love - Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Box Office Mojo: Down with Love Retrieved 2010-10-03
  2. ^ Rotten Tomatoes: Down with Love Retrieved 2012-11-26
  3. ^ Roger Ebert, May 16, 2003: Down with Love Retrieved 2012-11-26

External links[edit]