After much (some) consideration, Christa and I decided to keep rolling along with romance films. I think it would have been a travesty not to review any terrible ‘90s rom-coms, so I picked Down to You, starring ‘90s/early ‘00s royalty, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles. See what Christa thinks here!
As a word of caution, this review may or may not be colored by my recent interactions with my fucking asshole neighbor and the douchiest trustee ever (see my previous post).
Down to You
Where to Watch:
Julia Stiles and Freddie Prinze, Jr. engage in a maddeningly on-again/off-again relationship as ‘90s college students.
The Uncondensed Version:
So basically the first thing we learn about Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Al in this movie) is that he loves to break the fourth wall. Julia Stiles too. This movie would’ve been at least half an hour shorter if they hadn’t broken the goddamn fourth wall so much.
The entire point of breaking the fourth wall was for the two leads to tell us about their first love, providing ahem, “insight” into their relationship. This is film, people. Show, don’t tell.
So basically Al’s college friend group (at NYU? I honestly don’t remember) is the dude who makes porn films, the really stupid guy whose trademark phrase is “Get OUTTA here,” and the…well, Oscar Wilde, essentially. You know, the typical college friend group.
When Al approaches Imogen, aka Julia Stiles, she is trying to decide which Patsy Cline song to play on the jukebox. There’s a guy at the party named Jim Morrison (as it turns out, played by Ashton Kutcher???), and since no one who watches this film is hipster enough, she says “That guy looks like Jim Morrison from The Doors.” There’s nooooooooooooooooooooooo way anyone watching this film could have made that connection without guidance from the writers.
Also Selma Blair is a porn star who makes films with Al’s friend.
Later, hanging out in Imogen’s dorm, she asks if she can psychoanalyze him. And, okay, I’m probably making this way filthier than it was intended, but her first question is what his favorite food is…and it’s FISH. And hers is ECLAIRS. Whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooa, guys, this is PG-13.
However, this movie earns major points with Julia Stiles lip synching to “Let’s Stay Together” in the common area. This is clearly the “look how much of a free spirit she is in contrast to his uptight white dude schtick” scene.
As it turns out, Al’s father is a celebrity chef (played by Henry Winkler), so Imogen attends a taping of the show. Chef Ray is super fucking creepy in that he refers to eggplants as women and finds one that is perfect with no perfume and no bruises marring her figure. THEN he calls Imogen a tomato in front of his entire fucking studio audience; GROSS.
For some reason, Imogen, a college freshman, can afford to rent out an entire gallery for Al’s birthday. She wears this awful gray…shift(?) and he has to tell her she looks great. All in all, a pretty bizarre birthday.
Then the end of the year approaches, and Imogen will be abroad in France for the summer.
Apparently Selma Blair’s job is to stand around drinking and saying cynical things like “Love is a hoax.” Basically the entire point of Al’s friend group seems to be making him question his decisions and whether or not his relationship will last. I’m sure I’m at least 5x more cynical than all of the characters in this film put together, but even I believe in the little white lie.
Honestly, at this point, the film is more about Al’s terrible friend group and the Oscar Wilde guy taking a method approach to Hamlet and being totally insufferable. Also Jimmy Kimmel makes an appearance for no reason.
Meanwhile, Imogen is getting nervous about the idea of being married/having children/Al being an asshole, especially when she has a pregnancy scare. In response, the two decide to party to Vitamin C’s “Smile,” a song which virtually always portends bad things to come. After the events of the party, Al and Imogen break up, and she decides to leave for San Francisco. Before leaving, Imogen emotionally tells Al how she feels, but it just doesn’t work b/c it’s not in the form of a poem about all of his flaws.
So Al graduates, but is in general a shit show. He talks to a spider that lives in his apartment, has oral sex with Selma Blair in a Barnes & Noble (though, let’s be real, a library would probably be way more realistic). This all culminates in Al getting really drunk and drinking Imogen’s shampoo in what is either stupidity or a suicide attempt. Seriously, this dude is an alcoholic and needs to get some help.
Because Imogen happens to be in town, she finds him and they go for a walk in Central Park. She also gives him a copy of a book she wrote about them entitled Down to You and painted the cover I think??? I WONDER if it will bring them back together (it totally will).
Eh, I don’t know about this one.
There was nothing overly objectionable to me, but it was just a series of events in their lives rather than a film with any sort of plot. And their lives were really not that interesting. I didn’t really have any reason to root for Imogen/Al as people or as a couple. Inevitably, I was comparing this in my mind to 10 Things, and it did not compare favorably.
The film does get some points for effectively predicting the explosion of reality TV and food trucks by combining the two in Henry Winkler’s bizarre father/son reality program.
Possibly irrelevant point that still bothers me, but where did the title of Imogen’s book come from? Is it just me or does Down to You sound like the name of a porno film? Is it supposed to?
Mostly because I love Julia Stiles.
And I’m sorry, Christa, but that cover made this entire film worth it for me. Speak of the devil, check her review out here.