A review of “Down With Love” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: PG-13 for adult situations and innuendo

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

 

 

Nothing like an outrageously spoofy homage to the romantic comedies of Rock Hudson and Doris Day to beat the pre-summer blahs.

The sexual revolution of the 1960s is ripe with a wholesome whimsy that screams guilty pleasure. Firmly ensconced in this shocking-pink universe is authoress Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger), whose pre-feminist manifesto “Down with Love” (say “no” to love and “yes” to a career!) galvanizes the gender with frightening haste, leaving the opposite sex dangling helplessly in its wake.

While researching Novak for a cover story for the hip men’s magazine Know, lothario journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) lets his extra-curricular libido interfere with their interviews, leaving Novak high and dry with nothing but her pearly-whites as a public defense.  When Novak’s revolutionary tome unexpectedly goes gold, Block can’t get her to return his calls.  Unaccustomed to the female brush-off, Block decides to indulge in a little diversion of his own, by going undercover to prove that the outspoken Novak can’t live without love.

Airbrushed to innocent perfection, “Love” speaks volumes of a bygone era when role-reversal was a fresh and illuminating concept.  Zellweger and McGregor two-step their way through their collaborative fantasy with capricious energy – exulting in the battle of the sexes and wallowing in their easy chemistry.  The script is a hit-and-miss affair, peppered with jokes that intermittently fall like a bad soufflé as the cast double-entendres its way through felicitous escapades.

The real star of the show is the details --- fab 60s Technicolor digs and a dazzling array of period costumes, complete with Jackie O. specs, matching shoes and handbags, and outrageously chic beehive hats. Mad-cap montage of 1960s Manhattan nightlife and an engaging split-screen phone chat emphasize the project’s kitschy nostalgia.  

Zellweger is pure spunk in a halo-blonde flip, and McGregor’s mellow Scottish brogue facilely compliments his inky-slick, martini-with-an-olive Bond-ness. Buoyant and ambitious, this wink and a nudge to the “Pillow Talk” era is a plucky, juicy plum of a movie experience.