Down With Love gets a fine-tuned anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 that attempts to recreate the CinemaScope ratios of old. Not only does the team responsible for the film recreate the old school scope on Down With Love, they also do a fine job of mimicking the bright and radiant Technicolor palettes, with a film that is so colorful and beaming it’s almost cartoonish.
The film was finely detailed and sharp – just as one would expect from a Fox title – and it maintains a very fine level of specificity throughout. As mentioned before, the film contained a marvelously vivid and cheerful palette that mimics the films of the period and Fox handles the multifaceted palette quite well. For the most part, the film remains properly balanced and saturated, but there were times where it was just a bit too much and slightly overdone – so much so that it seemed to smear in some areas. It was nothing overtly distracting, but enough to be noted – even so, highly unusual for a Fox title. Fleshtones were accurate, while black levels were appropriately deep and bold. Shadow detail and delineation were more than acceptable and allowed Down With Love to remain very three-dimensional and film-like.
There were a few flaws noted in Fox’s transfer, as shimmer was somewhat problematic in some of the higher contrasted areas and on some of the more shiny surfaces. Edge enhancement was noted, but held at bay quite nicely and some ever-so-slight artifacting was noted as well. Grain, as well as print flakes and flecks, were in very short supply and when it was all said and done, Down With Love was another in a long line of fine looking outings from Fox Home Video.
Down With Love is a very bright and cheery flick and Fox’s transfer only serves to reinforce that fact. As usual, job well done save for a couple of flaws here and there. Fox has gotten so good at this stuff, it’s scary.
Fox’s Down With Love comes homes to DVD in a well done and surprisingly immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer. While the vast majority of the film was focused on dialogue, that didn’t keep Fox from using the effects and ambient moments to great effect.
The front surrounds contain plenty of directional effects and split dialogue, while the rear surrounds jump in on the action from time to time by creating some general ambience in the form of background noise in crowded restaurants, the comforting sounds of a small thunderstorm, whirring blades on a hovering helicopter, and general reinforcement for the film’s score. Speaking of score, Fox’s playful and appropriate score sounds really nice in their 5.1 mix, with crisply authored high-end and very taut, reverberating lows. Dialogue in the film was always crisp and distinct and never showed any signs of harshness, edginess, or distortion.
Down With Love is given a pretty expansive and wide soundstage to play in and Fox has authored the mix with some obvious t-l-c. Other audio tracks on the Down With Love DVD include a Dolby Digital 2.0 track in Spanish and French, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
While the film didn’t garner Fox’s full “Special Edition” treatment, you’d be hard pressed to figure it out from the supplements included on the disc, as the only thing that seems to be missing is a “Special Edition” banner on the cover in place of the “Widescreen Edition” banner that’s included. Fox offers fans quite an offering of fluffy and promotional extras that give us a nice overview of what it was like making the film.
First and foremost is an Audio Commentary with Director Peyton Reed and as he did for Bring It On, he gives another really entertaining and informative commentary. His love for this project, as well as how much fun he had doing it are covered in great detail here and Reed makes it hard for us not to want to listen to what he has to say. He talks about how he prepared for the film by studying 60’s sex comedies, the style he wanted to accomplish through the sets/wardrobe/score, casting and how much he enjoyed working with everyone, anecdotes from the set, and so on. Reed delivers another great commentary that fans of the film, its principals, or Reed will really enjoy.
”Here’s To Love” – Original Network TV Performance (3:32) is next and it’s nothing more than a catchy performance video of the “Here’s To Love” musical number performed by Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger. The video is presented in a fullframe presentation and Dolby Digital 2.0.
Down With Love Deleted Scenes are next and included are five deleted scenes (“23 – Barbara’s Photo Shoot”, “79 – Vikki Pitches Books”, “83 – Central Park”, and “102/104 – Vikki and Peter Prepare for the Big Night”) that can be viewed with or without commentary from director Peyton Reed. The commentary is pretty generic and Reed does little more than explaining what’s happening on the screen. Running a little under 5-minutes in total, these scenes wouldn’t have added much to an already simplistic story. Good to have, but nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking. Fox has also included a –PLAY ALL- feature here as well.
Next up is ”Guess My Game” featuring Celebrity Mystery Guest Barbara Novak – Original Network Broadcast (1:10). This is a full-frame, full-length presentation of the TV talk show that Zellweger’s character was featured on during the film.
The Down With Love Hair and Wardrobe Tests should be rather self-explanatory, as we get 65-seconds worth of snippets of all the main characters in different outfits and pieces that could potentially be used in the film.
Next is the Down With Love Blooper Reel (6:50) – a very entertaining clip of bloopers from the set featuring all of the main characters. Good stuff and it’s easy to see the group had a great time making this film. Light and fluffy, but lots of fun to check out – seriously.
The Down With Love Documentaries section is “loaded” down with six mini-documentaries inside of it. Included are “On Location with Down With Love” (about the digitally enhanced matted backgrounds used in the film), “Creating the World of Down With Love” (about the recreation of the 60’s style used in the film), “The Costumes of Down With Love” (about the magnificent 60’s wardrobe), “The Swingin’ Sounds of Down With Love” (covering Marc Shaiman’s period score), “Down With Love, Up with Tony Randall” (the fun the cast had with Tony Randall on the set), and “Down With Love - Split Decisions” (about the split-screen scenes used in the film and how they were achieved). By using Fox’s –PLAY ALL- feature, the supplement in total runs slightly over 16-minutes with the average running time of each individual effort being somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-3 minutes. The titles of the individual documentaries should give you a god indication of what’s included and while informative the documentaries themselves are simply too short to be completely engaging.
The HBO Special (12:34), is … you guessed it … the same promotional fluff you’ve seen on HBO (and DVD) for years now. We learn about the story, the film, the actors, the sets/wardrobe/music, and how great everyone was. This extra is as brisk and fluffy as the film itself and is worth a look at least once. However, it’s definitely nothing you haven’t seen a million times over already.
Finishing off the film’s supplements are a Down With Love Testimonial (0:36), a bogus testimonial singing the praises a Barbara Novak “Now” girl who has climbed the corporate ladder, and a Music Promo for the film’s soundtrack.
Ultimately, Down With Love was a slight disappointment considering all the talent in front of - and behind - the camera. Even so, it gets points for being something out of the ordinary and being entertaining enough to, at the very least, holding your interest. It’s a light and breezy way to blow an afternoon with your significant other, although I’d only recommend a blind purchase for hardcore fans of the film or its principals. Fox’s DVD is pretty loaded from a supplements standpoint – especially considering it doesn’t carry an official “Special Edition” banner - and fans have every reason to be elated with its contents.