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Heroes of the Zeroes: Down With Love

by on March 31, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Down With Love”
Rated PG-13

Movies opening with bright retro credits have the onus of living up to lofty memory-lane goals. Thankfully, 2003’s “Down with Love” succeeded at all levels — Mark Shaiman’s jazzy score, lively wordplay about bigwig nicknames and magazine titles, goofy montages in front of purposefully cheesy matte backgrounds, curlicue bangs and impeccably tailored fashions, and glorious floor-to-ceiling widescreen glamour.

And with its snappy double-entendre banter, this was undoubtedly the skillful battle-of-the-sexes comedy Rock and Doris would have made were they able to naughtily quip about bitches and hose — and play off someone as nervously clenched as David Hyde Pierce.

Renee Zellweger is Barbara Novak, a writer preaching promiscuous equality of the sexes. Ewan McGregor is Catcher Block, a ladies’ man writer shut down by the Novak-inspired women in his black book who tries to bring her down. (Be sure to stick around for an end-credits duet, a song these vocally gifted actors insisted be added.)

Dapperly blending Sean Connery and Cary Grant, McGregor purrs like a panther preparing to pounce, and his faux-gomer accent (as “astronaut” Zip Martin) is a cornball delight. And Zellweger gets one of her most deft comic moments — an unbroken take that would send the movie spinning out of control in lesser hands but keeps the same mildly parodying cool intact.

Peyton Reed — a more confident comedy director (“The Break-Up,” “Bring It On”) than he’s usually given credit for — kept this movie in an alluringly goofy tizzy from start to finish.