|Down With Love: Comic Upper|
Twentieth Century Fox Home Video (DVD), ASIN: B00005JLZW
Welcome to New York, circa 1960-something -- bright, bustling and full of optimism. The action opens in blinding Technicolor. Pouting, perfectly co-ordinated small-town librarian and first-time author Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) hails a canary yellow cab to fame, fortune and a meeting with her brilliant editor, Vikki Hiller (Sarah Paulson).
Reality -- in the form a single shot of anti-bomb protesters -- casts only the briefest of shadows over the glow. True to its Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy roots, Down with Love buoyantly glosses over the unrest of a city on the precipice of a new era.
Top of the agenda for Barbara and Vikki: equality between the sexes. The key to achieving this: the three-step program detailed in Barbara's feminist polemic, Down With Love. In spite of Vikki's best efforts, the book meets with a lukewarm response from their publisher, staid Banner Books. Desperate to get much-needed publicity, Vikki approaches Peter McManus (David Hyde Pierce), long-suffering magazine editor and employer of the city's starriest investigative reporter, Catcher "Catch" Block. But Catch refuses to be caught dead in the company of a spinster librarian from Maine.
Determined to thrust Barbra into the limelight, Vikki inveigles a television appearance and a glitzy endorsement, finally catapulting Down with Love into the bestseller lists. Women across the globe clamor for enlightenment -- and the reasons why they should always avoid men like Catcher Block.
Barbra's revenge is complete when Catch finds his love life considerably diminished. To top it all, Barbra's fame and glamour eclipse his overnight. She refuses his requests for interview with maddening relish. In urgent need of a career revival and a balm for his wounded pride, Catch formulates an ingenious plan: to make Barbra Novak fall in love with him and admit it on tape.
Ever confident of his own abilities -- despite a ridiculously transparent disguise and a bad Southern drawl -- suave urbanite Catcher Block reinvents himself as Zip Martin, an astronaut newly returned to earth, who just can't seem to find a nice girl.
With the biggest expose of his life mere days away, Catch's best-laid plans rapidly unravel in a tangle of multiple identities, sexual frustration and rampaging air-hostesses. As with all the best romantic comedies, Down With Love's loose ends tie up neatly in the unexpected ways, via breathtaking plot twists, costume changes and even a musical number!
Down with Love is bright and sweet as a pastel twin-set, enlivened by some brilliant visual gags and set-pieces, a tart, lively script, as well as outstanding period detail. (Watch out for an innuendo-laden, split-screen telephone conversation.) It also boasts winning performances -- in particular from the sorely underrated supporting cast. Add to the package some fun, well-crafted extras and a hilarious blooper reel, and Down With Love makes a perfect Friday night in.
Maysa M. Hattab
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