I apologize for being so lax on my blogathon entries. I over-committed and apparently cannot sign up for every blogathon during end of the quarter time at work. We were very busy during the month of May and frankly, I just didn’t have the ambition to write anything after getting home. I’m trying to get back on track, because I do enjoy watching movies and writing about them and sharing my love of movies with everyone. I should hopefully have some more time.
Lately, I’ve been catching up with Ewan McGregor, who I’ve proclaimed as my new Scottish boyfriend. I realize that he isn’t a classic movie star, but I enjoy movies of all kind–not just classic film. Classic film is my favorite, but I do watch newer films as well. Anyway, a film that I just recently discovered and found completely enjoyable is Down With Love.
Down With Love, while a film from 2003, is an homage to the classic Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex farces of the late 1950s-early 1960s. Pillow Talk, in particular, shares many similarities with this pastiche film. The film takes place in 1962 Manhattan. The film has a very stylized appearance with numerous tongue in cheek jokes and corny dialogue that was present in the rom-coms of yore. The costumes and sets are colorful and gorgeous. Renee Zellweger’s apartment is hilarious and very 1960s. There is also lots of innuendo which is always delightful. Especially in this film, as the innuendo is pretty racy, but not crass. A funny scene involves McGregor’s new secretary, Sally, overhearing a conversation between McGregor and his boss. They’re discussing the newest innovation in men’s socks (no need for sock garters!), but without being in the room, Sally assumes that they are comparing the size of each other’s “manhood,” with McGregor coming out well ahead (“16 inches!” “And don’t forget, I have two of them”).
In Down With Love, Zellweger plays Barbara Novak, a feminist writer who writes the best-selling non fiction book, Down With Love. The book is a sensation and soon every woman on the planet is engrossed in it and adopting its philosophy. Down With Love tells women that they don’t need to fall in love with a man and assume a life of domestic servitude. Women, like men, can have a fulfilling career, social life and have meaningless sex. They don’t have to have a man around to be happy. A love of chocolate can be substituted for a man if they wish. The main thing that the men of the world dislike about Zellweger’s book is that it promotes an independent life for women.
McGregor’s character, Catcher Block, is a star reporter at Know Magazine For Men, is assigned to write a story on Zellweger’s book. McGregor is a playboy, “a ladies man, a man’s man, a man about town.” At first, he is completely against the idea, because he finds the idea of her book dumb and boring. However, he has a change of heart when he finds out that he’s losing dates because they have embraced Zellweger’s idea that women don’t need men. McGregor decides that he’ll write an exposé about Zellweger, exposing her for what he feels are her true feelings, based on his assumption that all women really want love and marriage.
To bait Zellweger into admitting that she really wants love and not just meaningless sex (so he has fodder for his article), he arranges for a chance meeting at a dry cleaner, knowing that she’s only heard his voice, but doesn’t know what he looks like. He puts on a pair of glasses and poses as Major Zip Martin, a kind and naive astronaut from the South who is content on remaining chaste until he feels ready for a physical relationship. Essentially Zellweger and McGregor are working toward opposite goals (opposite from their own and from each other’s). Zellweger grows frustrated that McGregor won’t have sex with her and McGregor is enjoying frustrating her until he finds himself falling for her and suddenly his plan becomes frustrating for him as well (emotionally and physically). One particularly funny scene involving McGregor’s frustration (more physical, than anything else) is where after a particularly hot first kiss, he has to literally cool himself off by dumping a champagne bucket full of ice water on top of his head. In fact, there are a lot of sexy kissing scenes in this movie. It definitely helps that McGregor is so cute. Lol.
There is considerable sexual tension between Zellweger and McGregor’s characters throughout the entire film. They have great chemistry with one another and are very adept at bringing their respective personas to the screen. Zellweger’s Doris Day-esque character is not as squeaky clean as Day’s characters, such as when Zellweger is trying to outright ask McGregor (as “Zip”) to go home with her, after having literally just met him ten minutes earlier in the dry cleaner. McGregor, in a very unusual role for him (no nudity for one, lol), is excellent as the European playboy. Even his faux Southern accent is adorable and hilarious. He is very charming and you can see how so many women succumb to his charms. He also displays excellent comedic timing (which was also present in Moulin Rouge! to some extent).
David Hyde Pierce lends support as McGregor’s boss and best friend, Peter. Pierce is essentially his Niles Crane (from Frasier) persona here, unlucky in love and neurotic. He pines over Sarah Paulson, who plays Vicky, Zellweger’s editor and best friend. Pierce and Paulson have a subplot where their two characters try to get together while at the same time, supporting their respective friends in their relationship. Of course, Pierce is aware of McGregor’s deception in his relationship with Zellweger. Pierce and Paulson also provide much of the humor of the film, as they get all the hilarious one liners that are ubiquitous in the world of “the best friend” in the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies. Pierce and Paulson are essentially the male and female versions of the Tony Randall character who provided support in all three Day/Hudson features.
Speaking of Randall… He shows up in a very funny segment in the film where be bemoans the success of Down With Love because it’s affecting his relationship with his mistress.
Down With Love didn’t do well upon its initial theatrical release. I believe it only barely turned a profit. This film is greatly underrated and perhaps may have been overlooked when it was new, because audiences didn’t know what to make of this pastiche film that pays tribute to the 1950s-1960s sex farces. Perhaps if this had come out a few years later when Mad Men came out, it may have done better. I only found out about and watched this film less than a month ago, and I won’t even share how many times I’ve watched it since then. I originally borrowed it from the library and have since procured my own copy. I may have watched it two times in a row today while I wrote this blog entry.
Up with Down With Love!
PS: Watch the beginning of the ending credits of the film. You won’t regret it. Unless you dislike cheesy 1960s inspired lounge music numbers, then… I don’t think we have anything else to discuss.
This film is just plain fun. And really, in the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.