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Down with Love   D-

20th Century Fox

Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson, Tony Randall.

Review by Sean O'Connell

Attempting to recreate the coy Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies is a clever idea. Hiring Peyton Reed, director of the overstated cheerleader farce Bring It On, is not.

Reed's Down with Love sinks to unspeakably vulgar depths with nary a clue to how far it's falling. Screenwriting credits (or blame) go to Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake, television veterans who mistakenly assume that Day and Hudson starred in Porky's instead of Pillow Talk.

Set in the Technicolor confines of New York circa 1962, Love introduces author Barbara Novak (Renée Zellweger), whose book, Down with Love, ushers in a sexual equality movement. Novak encourages women to switch roles with their man in both the boardroom and the bedroom. She tests her theories when debonair journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) comes a-courting.

What follows is a parade of mistaken identity mishaps and dull double-standard jabs that are never as funny as Reed wants them to be, which sums up Love as a whole. Reed strives for "cute" and ends up with, "Look at how cute we're being." Instead of subtle innuendos, Reed smashes us over the head with groan-inducing puns and painfully obvious split-screen visual gags. We get it. They're talking about their private parts. Move on, already!

Once the novelty wears off, Reed is left with a laughless comedy and a chemistry-free romance. Love rivals Hollywood's legendary bombs, from Hudson Hawk to Waterworld. Spend all you want on period sets and costumes, Mr. Reed. If you can't polish your script, it's all for naught.

Down with Love may thrive on video, when groups can openly mock the film's audacity. If you're paying full price, though, I'd say take a pass. This may be the only time I say this, but go see Keanu Reeves' new movie instead.

Review published 05.09.2003.

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