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Many in the film industry feel that romances made prior to the late 1960s would have been much "racier" if it weren't for the restrictive censorship rules of the time. I think this assumption is quite accurate.
And now that we've entered the liberal era of on-screen sexuality, some creative types have taken one of those films imprisoned by archaic guidelines and produced a clone that speaks to today's sexual sensibilities. Input: Rock Hudson and Doris Day in 1959's Pillow Talk. Output: Ewan McGregor and Ren0xE9e Zellweger in 2003's Down With Love.
In case my sarcasm isn't evident, be sure this movie is yet another exercise in poking fun of the pre-sexual revolutionary period -- a time seen through the eyes of modern filmmakers as nothing short of Draconian (For example, The Hours, Far From Heaven, Pleasantville, and many more).
Zellweger plays Barbara Novak, an author who has released a book dismissing the need for love in a woman's life. Instead, it suggests women should be able to follow the male example, and have sex with whomever they please no strings attached. But to get the male masses to accept this radical change in thinking, women must first deny them sex, with the eventual goal putting the woman in charge of the mating game. In the meantime, Novak offers a simple substitute for desperate females: Chocolate.
Meanwhile McGregor's character, Catcher Block, writes for a men's periodical. His assignment? Get Barbara Novak to fall in love with him. Really fall in love. The obvious foils are ready to clash.
The original Pillow Talk would fail a few families' standards, not withstanding its obligation to ?keep it clean.? Yet, while sexual innuendo in 1959 was heavily veiled with the hopes the adult audiences would still pick up on the mature messages, Down With Love delivers its thinly veiled insinuations as comic parody. What results may be the most creative sexual innuendo ever written.
The overtones even extend beyond dialogue, bringing Pillow Talk's distinctive split screen style into a new age. While Hudson and Day, both in bathtubs, appeared to touch their feet together through a split screen, McGregor and Zellweger offer far more sexually suggestive positions.
Aside from an unnecessarily long conclusion, this film does offer tight writing, solid performances, and is a terrific period piece with some sensational set design. And yes, there are some truly funny moments. However, there is little to offer families who are already feeling down with sex in movies.
Down With Love is rated PG-13: for sexual humor and dialogue.
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson