Time: 101 mins.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
On first glance, this film seemed to be right up my alley: a frothy, witty, sophisticated farce about the travails of love. Modeled after the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedy PILLOW TALK, DOWN WITH LOVE follows the romantic machinations of swinging bachelor/hard-nosed journalist Catcher Block (McGregor) and his arch-nemesis in the war on love feminist authoress Barbara Novak (Zellweger). When she exposes him for the insensitive gigalo he is, which effectively kills his social life, he pulls out all the stops to debunk her best-selling premise that women should reject love and marriage which strangles their independence and become more like men when it comes to romance, i.e. have sex whenever and with whomever they want for pleasure not security.
This is where the film gets quaint: he tries to seduce her into falling in love with him and she attempts to get him into bed at every opportunity. Though the film leads you into believing he's the one in charge of this game, it's clear from the very beginning he's a mere puppet in Barbara's complicated plans to win his heart. Unfortunately, though the plot is surprisingly well devised with some clever and amusing twists and turns, I failed to ever really care whether these two found love or not. DOWN WITH LOVE is too caught up with attempting to be stylish and witty that the story fails to generate any heat or heart. What makes PILLOW TALK so entertaining is the honest and heartfelt connection Day and Hudson form, not the fabulous clothes, witty banter and chic sets (though those certainly help). Hudson falls in love with Day not because she manipulates him into it, but because she makes her character a sweet, intelligent, charming and utterly irresistible person.
Zellweger may be a better actress, yet she's fails to capture the luminous grace and sense of humor that made Day such a major star and her films of the 60s so much fun. Though they try mightily, it's impossible to capture the innocence and sensibility of that time. Yes, PILLOW TALK is ripe with sexual innuendo, as is DOWN WITH LOVE, yet it seems less seedy and obvious in the earlier version, written for spark rather than to garner a cheap laugh. And as wonderful as McGregor is, he can't hold a candle to Hudson's downright seething sex appeal. In fact, Hudson's so gorgeous, one can hardly blame him for being so popular with the ladies. Being more cute than manly, McGregor's forced to play Catcher somewhat tongue-in-cheek (more like Austin Powers than James Bond), so you never quite come to like him as much as you should. DOWN WITH LOVE gets points for trying to bring back wit and style to the genre, it's too bad they neglected to add the main ingredient: true romance.