A post-modern sex comedy set in the early 1960s centering upon a love affair between a best-selling advice author and a hotshot journalist/playboy.
This brightly colored romp is both a loving tribute to the old Rock Hudson-Doris Day Technicolor comedies of the late 1950's and early 60's and a revisionist critique of their moldy sexual politics. Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor are thinner and wirier than their predecessors, but their timing and energy are impressive, as is Peyton Reed's fanatical regard for the look, sound and tone of the old pictures. This one unfolds in a fairy-tale 1962 Manhattan, its streets thronged with boxy cabs and impossibly stylish dressers. What is missing, though, is the subtext of sexual and social panic that made the earlier movies so bracing in their silliness. Ms. Zellweger's proto-feminist firebrand, an apostle of sex without love and workplace equality, tangles with Mr. McGregor's playboy journalist, with matrimony the foreordained result. David Hyde-Pierce and Sarah Paulson are the neurotic second couple, and the romantic high jinks are fairly well managed. But the laughter ultimately grows out of complacency rather than confusion, and the teasing naughtiness, at this late date, seems more dutiful than daring. — A. O. Scott
2003-05-09 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Down With Love