For those who haven’t read it, this week’s Tuesday Review was Judy. A film that mixes Renée Zellweger with Judy Garland and puts her in the 1960s. Which makes Down With Love the perfect film for today’s Throwback Thursday. Well, it is a film that mixes Renée Zellweger with Judy Garland and puts her in the 1960s. Plus, this one has Ewan McGregor’s face in it. And, as we all know, that can make anything better. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t completely hate the Star Wars prequels. Although, it was never enough to make me want to watch this film the first time around. 15-year-old me wasn’t a fan of romantic comedies. Not that 31-year-old me is but I am less of a twat about it. A friend of mine really liked it and told me it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t see it. But, after a long Monday at work, the draw of McGregor’s face and the promise of an easy watch finally got me to say yes. So, would it be worth the wait?
I’ve figured it out. Down With Love is How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days but in the early 1960s. Renée Zellweger plays Barbara Novak, a feminist who has just released a book telling women to forget about finding love and focus on their career and having sex like a man. A move that quickly puts her in the sights of lothario journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor). Novak’s book has meant that the women Catcher could normally smooth-talk into bed are no longer falling for his charms. So, he sets his sights on tricking Novak into falling in love with him so he can prove her to be a fake. See, replace Zellweger with Kate Hudson and switch McGregor with Matthew McConaughey and what have you got?
But then again, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days makes more sense than Down With Love. There’s a whole twist in the narrative that neither makes much sense or adds anything to the plot. It’s just stupid and suggests the film is trying to be too clever for its own good. The film is so preoccupied with paying tribute to the Rock Hudson/Doris Day films of the 1950s and 60s that it kind of forgets to have a point. Although it does a pretty good job of imitating the films it’s sending up and its two stars are perfectly cast in their roles. The film just starts to get messy when it tries to comment on sexual politics. It all gets very clumsy and, who could have guessed, that it wasn’t the best vehicle for this kind of thing.
Down With Love has a certain amount of charm and a sense of fun about it. It’s not the worst thing you’d ever see and is a good enough way to pass a lazy evening. However, there’s just not much to it. The supporting cast of David Hyde Pierce (God that name ages this thing quite a bit doesn’t it!) and Sarah Paulson are both enjoyable in two fairly dull roles. They at least have some fun with what they get to do. It’s just that everything seems so pointless. Plus, there’s an inescapable knowing grin plastered all over this film. It’s like Ricky Gervais in The Muppets Most Wanted. This film is so desperate to let you know that it knows what it’s doing despite the fact that what it’s doing isn’t all that interesting. It’s all a bit much and much of the funny moments feel too forced to be funny. It feels like too much effort went into recreating the style of the movies it’s referencing that it forgot it was actually a film for an early 2000s audience.