Down With Love (2003)

(In theaters, May 2003) I’m way too young to recall the carefree naughty comedies of the early sixties, but, heck, I’ve seen Austin Powers and I’m a sucker for crackling dialogue. It only took “from director Peyton Reed” to get me in the theatre (his previous film was the wonderful Bring It On) and he doesn’t disappoint with this charming irony-free (well, mostly) throwback to another era. Ewan MacGregor and David Hyde Pierce are magnificent in their roles (unfortunately, Renée Zellweger is too thin), but it’s the direction which takes centre-stage, with a wonderful blend of inconsistent special effects, outlandish set design and effective camera work. The script is more fun than most other comedies you’ll see this year, with plenty of zingers, fresh dialogues and a mean twist or three at the end. Exceptional date movie. Good stuff; I can’t wait to hear the director’s commentary on the DVD.

(Second viewing, On DVD, March 2004) I’m overly pleased to report that this, my favourite romantic comedy in a long while, remains as fresh and delicious than my memories of my first viewing indicated. Everything clicks in this film, from the performances to the direction, the script to the costumes. What is more apparent on a small screen is how much of a character is Mark Shaiman’s score, as it seamlessly underscores every single twitch, blink and nod on-screen. There hasn’t been a film so delightful in a long while, and it doesn’t play as much as it delivers a constant jolt of fun. I remain convinced that director Peyton Reed is one of the best new directors out there; certainly, the totality of his romantic vision for Down With Love is deeply impressive. The DVD is packed with good stuff, the best of which is a breathlessly interesting audio commentary by Reed himself. Tons of smaller documentaries (plus one useless HBO infomercial) complete the package. It’s a shame that this film couldn’t find much of an audience anywhere; in the meantime, it’ll stay in my DVD collection as a secret weapon to charm unsuspecting guests.

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