English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Commentary - English
5 Deleted scenes
Down With Love
20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 97 mins .
M15+ . PAL
During the ‘60s, there was a genre of romantic comedy films that were hugely successful and reflected America prior to its assault on the sexual revolution of the ‘70s. Three of the biggest films in this particular genre starred Rock Hudson and Doris Day, the first film Pillow Talk possibly the most popular. This hit film was followed by Lover Come Back and then Send Me No Flowers and both were also loved by viewers for their content of sexual innuendo and squeaky clean romance. The films were famous for their split screen phone conversations, Rock Hudson on one side laying in bed with Doris Day on the other also laying in bed, giving the impression they were actually in bed together. It was all a bit corny and although these films can occasionally still be seen on television, they have somewhat lost their appeal.
The modern day Rock Hudson and Doris Day
For this reason then you would have to wonder why anyone would bother making a film paying tribute to this genre. Having made a tribute film, the other important issue is does it work? Well, in this reviewer's opinion, Down With Love is a terrific little tribute and a lot of fun.
Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) comes to 1963 New York to meet with her publishers. She has just written a new book entitled Down With Love which encourages women to not be second class citizens to men and to substitute chocolate for sex. Down With Love is her first book and the meeting with her publishers is to look at the best way to market the book. She meets with her editor Vicki Hiller (Sarah Paulson) and they decide the best form of publicity would be to get the Pulitzer Prize winning Know magazine journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) to write an article about the book. The reasoning for this is that Know is a men’s magazine and Catcher Block is a real ladies man, so an article written by him would indeed give the book the plug it needs.
Catcher Block agrees to meet the author, but assuming that Barbara Novak is an ugly spinster he repeatedly gets distracted by other women and cancels their meeting. Novak tires of his rescheduling and eventually tells him that she will never meet with him. The book goes on to become a worldwide success regardless and when Catcher finally sees a shop window display of Novak, showing her to be a beautiful young woman, he suddenly craves a meeting with her.
Pretty in pink.
Along with a desire to meet a beautiful woman he is also driven by the fact that her book is making life hell for men all over the world. He wants to meet her so he can write an expose to discredit her and put the sexual equality back in favour of the men. The one small problem though is that Novak said she would never meet with him, so Catcher decides to pretend to be a sensitive Southern astronaut named Zip Martin. This ploy gets them together with some very amusing results. Meanwhile, Catcher’s best friend and editor Peter MacMannus (David Hyde Pierce) is desperately trying to court Novak’s editor Vicki, who seems uninterested. As is normal for this type of film, the two couples use each other to gain an upper hand, usually with disastrous results.
"So you're a homosexual hopelessly in love with Catcher Block, that's no reason the two of us can't be married!"
Mike Myers brought the ‘60s back to life with the superb Austin Powers series of films, but surprisingly this trend hasn’t been followed by many. Down With Love skilfully captures the ‘60s feel of films but, more importantly, it pays wonderful homage to the films of Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Not only are the numerous sexual innuendos and double entendres on show, but along with these there is some wonderful humour not only paying homage to this genre but also parodying it.
Director Peyton Reed made a splash as a filmmaker with Bring it On and this film is another triumph for his resume. It uses some stunning sets with glorious colours and, from the opening credits, we are instantly sent back in time to the sizzling ‘60s. This film oozes class from start to finish and is a fine tribute to the genre as well as having its own style. For a film like this to work the leading characters must have chemistry and these definitely do. So if you are a fan of the old Doris Day and Rock Hudson romantic comedies, chances are you will enjoy this little tribute.
Wow! The colours are a highlight of this excellent transfer. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16:9 enhanced, the superb sets and colourful costumes leap out at you in all their glory. Picture is as sharp as a nail with the only real problem being occasional edge enhancement. Shadow detail is fine and, along with strong black levels, everything looks dandy. Skin tones are not too natural, but one would assume this is intentional and not a fault of the transfer. The layer change is well placed at 40:22 and is hard to spot. Overall this is a very groovy transfer.
Yellow lines always seem to get in the way.
Audio comes in the good old English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround style and is quite impressive. The soundstage is not fully utilised, but considering this is predominantly a dialogue-driven film it serves its purpose well. This is not to say there is no music though, the accompanying score from Marc Shaiman is extremely well suited, offering some fine swing numbers along with the cheesy style of music associated with ‘60s romance comedies and this is supplied constantly throughout the film. The majority of the audio is delivered via the front channels and is well balanced. The rears are used mainly for musical support with very little in the way of directional effect. The subwoofer gets some use but, again, this is mainly for support of the musical score. There are no problems with synch, hiss or dropout or any of those other nasties so all in all this is just as groovy as the video transfer.
Compared to the rental release, there is a virtual plethora of extras with this retail version.
Commentary by Director Peyton Reed
Reed provides an interesting commentary. Although fairly scene specific, it does offer some interesting information about the film. It is supplied in Dolby Digital stereo and also comes with subtitles.
Muisc Video - Here’s to Love
At the end of the film there is a performance by the leading two characters, performing the song Here’s to Love. This feature contains the full video clip of that song and runs for 3:34.
Contained here are five deletions that are available with optional commentary from the director. Scenes contained are Barbara's Photo Shoot, Vikki Pitches Books, Central Park, Vikki and Peter Prepare for the Big Night and Beauty Parlour. The longest scene is just under two minutes in length, with the majority clocking in around 30 seconds long.
Guess My Game
Taken from the quiz show section of the main feature, this is the thing in full and it runs for 1:12.
Hair and Wardrobe Tests
Running for 1:04, this brief featurette looks at the hair and wardrobe tests prior to filming.
Possibly the highlight of the extras, this blooper reel runs for 6:36 and offers a few good laughs with the cast messing up lines and giggling.
Contained in this section are six documentaries. The option is there to play them all together or individually. The running time varies from two minutes to the longest one being 3:08 and they have a combined total running time of 16:25. Documentaries contained are On Location, Creating the World Of, The Costumes Of, The Swingin’ Sounds Of, Up With Tony Randall and Split Decisions.
Running for 12:36, this featurette is a rather long running promo for the film, all sugar coated to make the viewer feel nauseous by the end.
This mock testimonial is a ‘60s style black and white clip that shows how women have benefited from the Novak best seller. This is very well done and has a running time of 36 seconds.
Music Promo Spot
This is simply an advertisement for the soundtrack to the movie and runs for a thankfully brief 34 seconds.
Overall this is really a film that you will love or hate. If you are a fan of the ‘60s genre and in particular the Doris Day and Rock Hudson series of films, you should love this. It is certainly something different from the mainstream stuff being churned out of Hollywood so hats off to the producers for trying something new – well, new for this decade, anyway. The video and audio are of a very high standard and the extras are plentiful, even if they are not all of interest. So, if you feel like stepping back in time to the early ‘60s and reliving all that fashion and innuendo, enjoy.