Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
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 — Marc 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 and Bring It On) than he’s usually given credit for — kept this movie in an alluringly goofy tizzy from start to finish.