Good news, bad news. The bad news is that stress rules these days. Stress over the the state of the world, the state of politics, and the state of who exactly is steering the ship and where are we going? It’s tough to meet each day feeling positive when so much negativity bombards us on a 24/7 news schedule. But — and here’s the good news – I’ve found a little bit of a solution, an escape if you will. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it’s the perfect antidote to these toxic times (and to the stories in the Washington Post and The New York Times). It’s — and I’m going to use a word that we hear so little these days — delightful.
I know what you’re thinking — “dear blogger, what in the hell are you talking about?” Okay, settle down. It’s a little movie called Down with Love that came out in 2003 — and it’s as much a terrific distraction as a creative gem. All it asks of the viewer is to sit back and enjoy, with no commitment to following a story that is filled with angst, has impossible-to-understand twists and turns, and is just a major downer, man.
Down with Love is a bit of a madcap romance, set in the 1960s, with lots of I-fooled-you, you-fooled-me details. In short, Renée Zellweger plays a best-selling feminist author named Barbara Novak who aims to teach women to forget about love and instead aim for professional success as well as a casual attitude in the bedroom. The bane of her existence is writer Catcher Block (Ewan MacGregor) who is out to expose Ms. Barbara as a fraud with a few ploys of his own.
The brilliance of this pic lies in its send-up of the Doris Day / Rock Hudson romantic comedies of the late 1950s and early 1960s. (If you’re not familiar, check out Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back.) The ingredients are a pretty girl meeting a handsome guy, some zany mix-ups, lots of flirty romance, and a wink-wink to sex. Down with Love takes it to a more sophisticated level (including being more suggestive in its wink-winking), and the overall effect is slick, sleek, and pure money in the bank.
The movie’s color palette — the sets, the props, the costuming — pops, right along with the dialogue. And in a particularly clever bit of casting, Tony Randall, the foil for Rock Hudson’s heartthrob hero in the old movies, appears as well (albeit in a different type of role), while the immensely talented David Hyde Pierce picks up Randall’s mantle of wingman and lovable-nerd-in-residence. Sarah Paulson plays Vikki, Barbara’s editor and requisite best-friend character, to fill out the fabulous foursome. Hilarity ensues throughout, but don’t leave early. The musical number that plays over the closing credits is totally worth the price of admission.
After watching a couple of hours of bleak TV news last night, finding Down with Love on HBO was like coming home from a tough day and finding an unexpected gift waiting at my door. A big, bright, happy gift. Tied in ribbons.
No strings attached.
ⓒ 2017 Claudia Grossman