Down with Love [2003]

The bright, glossy world of Doris Day and Rock Hudson sex comedies gets a self-aware brush-up in Down with Love. Pillow-lipped Renée Zellweger (Chicago) plays Barbara Novak, the author of a bestselling book called Down with Love that advises women to focus on their careers and have sex à la carte--just like a man would. Determined to prove that Novak is just as vulnerable to love as any woman, dashingly chauvinist magazine writer Catcher Block (ever-charming Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge) pretends to be a courtly astronaut who wouldn't dream of putting his hand on a woman's knee. This piffle of a story seems like nothing more than an excuse for ironic double-entendres and dazzling production design, until a sneaky plot twist suddenly raises the stakes for the movie's end. As he always does, the brilliant David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) scores the most comic points as Block's fussy editor. --Bret Fetzer

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Barbara Novak:
I'm not gonna storm out of here, Catch. And I'm not gonna admit that you got Barbara Novak to fall in love... because I'm not Barbara Novak. There is no Barbara Novak.

Catcher Block:
Huh?

Barbara Novak:
And I didn't fall in love with Zip Martin. I fell in love with Catcher Block. And that was a year ago, when for three and a half weeks, I worked as your secretary. I don't expect you to remember me. I wasn't a blond then. But you did ask me out. And it broke my heart to say no, but I loved you too much. I couldn't bear to become just another notch in your bedpost. With your dating habits, I knew that even if I was lucky enough to get a regular spot on your rotating schedule... I would never have your undivided attention long enough for you to fall in love with me. I knew I had to do something to set myself apart. I knew I had to quit my job as your secretary... and write an international best-seller controversial enough... to get the attention of a New York publisher as well as "KNOW" magazine... but insignificant enough that as long as I went unseen, "KNOW" magazine's star journalist would refuse to do a cover story about it. I knew that every time we were supposed to meet, you would get distracted by one of your many girlfriends and stand me up... and this would give me a reason to fight with you over the phone... and declare that I wouldn't meet with you for a hundred years. And then all I would have to do was be patient and wait... the two or three weeks it would take for everyone in the world to buy a copy of my best-seller - and then I would begin to get the publicity I would need for you... to, one, see what I look like, and, two, see me denounce you in public as the worst kind of man. I knew that this would make you wanna get even by writing one of your exposés. And in order to do that, you would have to go undercover, assume a false identity and pretend to be the kind of man who would make the kind of girl I was pretending to be fall in love. And I knew that since I was pretending to be a girl who would have sex on the first date you would have pretend to be a man who wouldn't have sex for several dates. And in doing so, we would go out on lots of dates to all the best places and all the hit shows until finally, one night, you would take me back to your place - that you were pretending was someone else's - in order to get the evidence you needed to write your exposé... by seducing me until I said, "I love you." But saying "I love you" was also my plan. I just wanted to tell you the truth so that when you heard me say, "I love you" you would know that I knew who you were, and you would know who I was. Then you, the great Catcher Block, would know that you'd been beaten at your own game... by me, Nancy Brown, your former secretary. And I would have, once and for all, set myself apart from all the other girls you've known, all those other girls that you never really cared about, by making myself someone like the one person you really love and admire above all others: you. Then, when you realized that you had finally met your match... I would have at last gained the respect that would make you wanna marry me first and seduce me later.

Barbara Novak:
I just wanted you to hear all this from me before you heard it from your private eye.

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