Down with Love

For the song, see Down with Love (song). For the Taiwanese TV series, see Down with Love (TV series).
Down with Love

Down with Love movie poster
Directed by Peyton Reed
Produced by Dan Jinks
Bruce Cohen
Written by Eve Ahlert
Dennis Drake
Starring Renée Zellweger
Ewan McGregor
Sarah Paulson
David Hyde Pierce
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Jeff Cronenweth
Edited by Larry Bock
Fox 2000 Pictures
Regency Enterprises
Jinks/Cohen Company
Mediastream Dritte Film
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • May 9, 2003 (2003-05-09) (New York)
  • May 16, 2003 (2003-05-16) (US wide)
  • August 14, 2003 (2003-08-14) (AUS)
  • October 3, 2003 (2003-10-03) (UK & IRL)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $39.5 million[1]

Down with Love is a 2003 romantic comedy film. It was directed by Peyton Reed and stars Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson and David Hyde Pierce.

The story follows a woman who advocates female independence in combat with a lothario and the patriarchal, even male chauvinist society of the 1950s and early 1960s. The film is a pastiche of the sex comedies that were popular in the era in which Down with Love is set, in particular the three films that starred Doris Day and Rock Hudson: 1959's Pillow Talk, 1961's Lover Come Back and 1964's Send Me No Flowers.


In early 1960s New York City, Barbara Novak arrives in town at Banner House to present her new work, Down with Love, a book the intent of which is to free women from love, teach them to enjoy sex without commitment, and to replace the need for a man with things such as chocolate. Following her rules would, she believes, help to give women a boost in the workplace and in the world in general.

The men who run Banner House refuse to support the book. The only way Vikki Hiller, Barbara's editor, can find to promote the book is for Barbara to meet Catcher Block – a successful writer for the magazine Know and a notorious "ladies' man, man's man, man about town" – but he avoids her repeatedly by postponing their dates until she gets fed up, insults him, and walks out.

Catcher's boss and best friend, Peter MacMannus, and Vikki take a liking to one another. However, their relationship revolves around Barbara and Catcher, and neither is brave enough to express their feelings for the other. Peter feels overshadowed by Catcher's strong personality, and Vikki wants to see emotional commitment in her lover. She even assumes Peter must be gay due to his perceived lack of interest.

Barbara starts promoting her book with Vikki's help, and things take off when they get Judy Garland to sing the song "Down with Love" as a promotion to the book on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sales skyrocket, as housewives and women around the world buy the book and rebel against their men; Catcher now wants to meet Barbara, but now it is she who rejects him.

It all comes to a boiling point when Barbara appears on a national TV show talking about a chapter from the book – "The Worst Kind of Man" – and cites Catcher Block as the perfect example. Subsequently, Catcher's date rejects him, which infuriates him. Catcher swears revenge on Barbara and to undo the damage (as he sees it) done by her book by writing the "exposé of the Century" - he will prove to the world that, deep down, all women are the same, they all want love and marriage. Including Barbara Novak.

He arranges for a casual meeting at a dry cleaner shop, taking advantage of the fact that Barbara has never met or seen him, and he poses as an astronaut, Major Zip Martin, attentive and polite. Barbara appears to be immediately infatuated with this man who seemingly has no idea who she is, in contrast to men who now avoid her, viewing her as the enemy since the publication of her book.

"Zip" takes her to the most fashionable locations in New York while maintaining considerable sexual tension between them by feigning naivete and a desire to remain chaste until he is "ready" for a physical relationship. But he starts falling for her, and it gets harder to go through with his plan.

When Barbara finds Catcher/Zip at a party he is almost caught out, and decides it is time to take everything to the next level: he tells Barbara that Catcher Block wants to interview him for an exposé on the NASA space program and asks her to accompany him. It is his own apartment, and he sets everything up to record her saying she loves him. But then it is she who reveals the truth: she knew he was really Catcher from the beginning, but she also lied as she is not Barbara Novak but Nancy Brown, once one of Catcher's many secretaries, who fell in love with him while working at Know, but who turned him down when he asked her out because she did not want to be just another one in his long list of romances.

She tells him she did this to be different from all the women he knew, and make him love her. They both realize that Catcher does love her, but as he is proposing, one of his many lovers appears and thanks Barbara for what she has done for womankind. Barbara realizes that she does not want love or him as she has become a real "down with love" girl. Vikki and Peter's relationship also changes when she insults him for helping Catcher. Peter realizes he is indeed like any other man and takes Vikki to Catcher's apartment to take things to the next level.

Days later, Catcher is completely depressed; all his efforts to win Barbara back have failed. Even his exposé is ruined now that Barbara has told her story in her own magazine, Now. Peter is also depressed as his relationship with Vikki is now apparently based only on sex. Catcher realizes he can do something and writes a new exposé "How Falling In Love With Barbara Novak Made Me A New Man". He learns there is an opening at Now and goes for an interview with her. There, he tells her how much she changed him, and it is obvious she wants him but turns him down anyway; he says he wished there could be a middle ground for them "somewhere between a blonde and a brunette", referring to her real persona, where she was a brunette.

As he is leaving her office, he realizes she is not coming after him, but she surprises him on the elevator, showing him a bright red hair style: she has found the middle ground and she wants to be with him. They fly to Vegas to get married, influencing Vikki and Peter, who also decide to get married. Their marriage results in a new book intended to end the battle of the sexes, with the pair ultimately singing "Here's To Love."



Critical response

Down with Love received 60% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert spoke of the film fairly positively, saying parts were "fun", and describing Zellweger's speech at the end as "a torrent of words [pouring] out from her character's innermost soul".[3]

Box office

The film underperformed, making less than $40 million at the box office worldwide.[1]


The film's title comes from the song "Down with Love" as sung by Judy Garland, who is seen singing it on The Ed Sullivan Show in one scene.

The song "Here's to Love" sung by Zellweger and McGregor during the closing credits (and in its entirety on the DVD release as a special feature) was a last-minute addition to the film. Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman appear in the number as the pianist and the barman, respectively. According to the DVD commentary, it was added at the suggestion of Ewan McGregor, who pointed out the opportunity the filmmakers had to unite the stars of two recently popular musical films (his Moulin Rouge! and Zellweger's Chicago).

The songs "Kissing A Fool" and "For Once in My Life", sung by Michael Bublé, previously appeared on Bublé's 2003 self-titled album.

Track list

Soundtrack cover (2003)
  1. Down with Love - Michael Bublé and Holly Palmer
  2. Barbara Arrives - Marc Shaiman
  3. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) (Count Basie And His Orchestra) - Frank Sinatra
  4. One Mint Julep - Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra
  5. For Once In My Life - Michael Bublé
  6. Girls Night Out - Marc Shaiman
  7. Everyday Is A Holiday With You - Esthero
  8. Kissing A Fool - Michael Bublé
  9. Barbara Meets Zip - Marc Shaiman
  10. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) - Astrud Gilberto
  11. Love in Three Acts - Marc Shaiman
  12. Here's To Love - Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor


External links

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