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.