Down with Love: The Ultimate Catch Has Met His Match (2003)

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Comedy, Romance

Barbara Novak is a young woman from a small town who feels that she has a book that must get published. Going to the big city (New York), she approaches the publishing company of the revered Catcher Block. Thought of as a man’s man, he commands the attention of every woman he meets. Turned off by Barbara’s book’s premise that women do not need a man to be happy, he turns her down and sends her off. Barbara meets up with another publisher and gets her book released, even in small numbers. As the number of women who read the book grow, Catcher begins to have some trouble finding a date. Determined to prove Barbara wrong, he takes on a new persona, Zip Martin, who is everything he is not. Caught in the fray are Barbara’s publicist, Vikki Hiller, and Catcher’s boss, Peter MacMannus.

Starring: Renee Zellweger (Barbara Novak), Ewan McGregor (Catcher Block), Sarah Paulson (Vikki Hiller), David Hyde Pierce (Peter MacMannus), Rachel Dratch (Gladys), Tony Randall (Theodore Banner), Jeri Ryan (Gwendolyn), Michael Ensign (JR), John Alyward (EG), Warren Munson (CB), Matt Ross (JB), Timothy Omundson (RJ), Ivana Milicevic (Yvette)

In this quirky comedy throwback to the 1960s, the cast plays off a exaggerated style of emoting to create a more dynamic story. Taking the leading role of Barbara Novak is Renee Zellweger. In this sort of film, her personality fits a bit better. She takes on three basic personalities: innocent, small town girl, rising star and dominant business woman. For Ewan McGregor, his portrayal of Catcher Block has a suaveness and confidence that appears greater than most. In his Zip persona, he uses the concept of a straight-laced astronaut to create a distance between his Catcher personality and rouse. As her right-hand woman, Sarah Paulson plays a little more of the parrot role, copying a lot of the personality traits portrayed by Zellweger. David Hyde Pierce, on the other hand, has a nervousness that is highly entertaining. He actually plays more of the subservient role in his relationship with McGregor.

This film by Peyton Reed, he mixes together the concept of feminism, chauvinism, sexual pursuit and romance all through this story about the publication of a book. For Barbara Novak, she seems to be seeking out the opportunity to share her story with the masses. Though she comes from a small town, her adaptation to the fame appears almost instantaneous. When Catcher’s playboy ways are threaten, he distances himself away from his many women and focuses in on Barbara. For the two competing members of the publishing world, they play a cat and mouse game back and forth as they test each other’s true intentions. When the film comes to its conclusion, both Catcher and Barbara make major concessions about their feelings toward each other. In a secondary story, Vikki and Peter have a moment when they first interact and find an instant attraction, but since they are in a supporting role for their friends, they find their relationship significantly more difficult to get started.

The style of this film is rather interesting in that it mimics the presentation of the classic 60s sexual comedy. Filled with a number of double entendres, the dialogue purposely keeps the focus on the sexual tension once the story gets moving. The bouncy music and bold styles keep the feel of the film light from start to finish. Catcher’s character as the playboy highlights the strong male-centric element that became attributed to the stereotypical wealthy, attractive men of the time. Assuming that women were “meant” to be subservient and available, his opposite persona as Zip tried to play into the assumed concept of feminism and flip the gender roles simply to make a point toward the support of his lifestyle. To help connect with the classic presentation, even the film’s  logos before the film and the title sequence represents the time.

This playful exploration of the concept of love is highly entertain, though sometimes overly exaggerated. McGregor and Zellweger have a good chemistry but Pierce is actually the most entertaining actor of the film.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5

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