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Down with Love
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has a good deal of sexual innuendo and double entendres, including an extended split-screen sequence that makes it appear that the characters are engaging in a number of sexual acts. There is brief strong language. Characters drink and smoke as evidence of sophistication. Equality of women is a humorous theme of the movie. As in the 1960s movies it salutes, all characters are white.
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What's the story?
In DOWN WITH LOVE, Barbara Novak (Renee Zellwegger) is the author of a book called Down with Love, that tells women to be strong and independent, to find fulfillment in work and to use men for sex but not become emotionally attached. Magazine writer and man-about-town Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) decides to expose her as a hypcrite by making her fall in love with him. He pretends to be a shy astronaut who does not want to have sex unless he is in love. But Barbara -- and Cupid -- have a few surprises in store for him.
Is it any good?
Down With Love can't make up its mind whether it is a salute to the Doris Day-Rock Hudson/James Garner/Cary Grant movies of the 1960s or a parody of them. Perhaps surprisingly, it works better as a salute, and never quite reaches the heights of the movies that inspired it. The movie begins by saying that "the time is now -- 1962" and the period details are, well, swell, including flip hairdos, Tang, martinis, the twist, Camelot and clothes and furniture that are the kickiest! Catch is wearing a dinner jacket when he returns from a luau with the astronauts at Cocoa Beach.
When Barbara's book becomes a worldwide sensation, she receives the ultimate badge of fame -- an Alfred E. Newman parody on the cover of Mad magazine. But the best of the movie's in-jokes is Tony Randall, who often played Hudson's best friend, a neurotic rich guy who hopelessly envied Hudson's confidence and success with the ladies in the original series of movies. In Down With Love, that role is exquisitely played by David Hyde Pierce, but Randall appears as the head of the publishing firm, demonstrating his impeccable timing and delivery. Indeed, the supporting players, sets, and costumes are so vivid that they make the main characters seem a little bland.
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