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“Down With Love”
Reviewed by: Dara R. Cosby
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen anamorphic
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Surround
Languages English, French, Spanish
Subtitles English, Spanish
Length 102 minutes
Rating PG-13 for sexual humor and dialogue
Release Date October 7, 2003
Studio Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Commentary: Director Peyton Reed
Documentaries: “Down With Love”: The Documentaries
Featurettes: 8 Production Vignettes, HBO Special
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: 5 deleted scenes (w/ optional director’s commentary)
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: “Here’s to Love” performed by Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor
Music Video: “Here’s to Love” performed by Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor
Other: Gag Reel
Cast and Crew: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson
Written By: Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake
Produced By: Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks
Directed By: Peyton Reed
Music: Mark Shaiman
The Review:

“Down With Love” is a film that would make Doris Day and Rock Hudson proud! The film pays homage to the “bedroom comedies” of the fifties and early sixties…the genre that made Day and Hudson household names. The story, set in 1962, revolves around Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) and Barbara Novak’s (Renee Zellweger) whirlwind relationship. Block is a “swinging playboy” who writes for KNOW magazine for men. Novak is the beautiful author of a controversial book called, “Down with Love”. ***

The book instructs women how to squelch their need for love, to have unemotional sex, like a man, in order to become an equal success in society. Women embrace their new found independence acquired from Novak’s teachings; causing a dynamic shift in power between the sexes. This shift, wrecks havoc on Catcher Block’s sex life, because his usual charms are ignored. He vows to prove that Barbara Novak, herself is not a true “Down with Love” girl after he is humiliated on television for being a “lady killer.” ***

Comedy ensues as both character’s try to stave off their attraction for each other. Block, under the fake identity, “Zip Martin” tries to woo Novak with a sweet, “boy next door” persona. The tension grows between them along with the visual and verbal sexual innuendo. The fun thing about this film is not “Will they get together, but how?” they go about it. ***

In the tradition of the “bedroom comedies” every person’s movement is exaggerated and choreographed. There is a musicality to the action, at times characters seem to glide along with the music. The locations were all shot on soundstages, director Peyton Reed, even used old painted backdrops from the 1950s-60s in “Down With Love.” All of this artifice makes for an extremely entertaining diversion from the “realism” of today’s filmmaking techniques. ***

Image and Sound: To be honest, I haven’t seen a film with such outrageous vivid color, since the days of Technicolor film. Image quality is impeccable; you can tell Reed did his best to recreate the “Cinema Scope” feel by using anamorphic widescreen. The use of this version of widescreen lent it self well to long takes and wide shots employed by “Down With Love.” I would have been quite disappointed if the sound quality was bad, considering that music is so prominent in the film. But, the mix is great; especially with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound.
The Extras: This DVD is filled to the brim with treasures for audiences to enjoy. There are the eight vignettes that highlight aspects of making “Down With Love.” Included is “The Documentaries: mini specials on the film’s world, wardrobe and location. The HBO special is pretty standard: cast and crew interviews. The other extras showcase the films music and overall tone. The deleted scenes aren’t spectacular; what makes this section interesting is hearing Peyton Reed’s reasons not to use them. I had a wonderful time watching the gag reel and truly inspired music video for “Here’s to Love!” ***
Commentary: Director Peyton Reed does a great job with this feature length discussion. Reed has an informative anecdote for almost every scene in the film. He talks about the research that he conducted on 1950-60s history and pop culture. Reed shares various insights into how the cast and crew dedicated themselves to make an accurate and astute film.
Final Words: “Down With Love” is a gem! The film is all at once, a broad physical comedy and a bright, vivid romantic fable. All of the cast and crew had a wonderful experience making the film and it shows. A must see!

 

 
 
 
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