This is the way I like to imagine it happened: director Peyton Reed and his collaborators on the 2003 film Down with Love, part pastiche of and part spoof of old Rock Hudson-Doris Day sex comedies, were almost done with the the production when it suddenly occurred to them that both of the film’s stars were coming off of musicals. Renée Zellweger was a just Oscar nominee for Chicago and Ewan McGregor warbled wobbly but endearingly in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. Why not take advantage of the playful freedom offered by the film’s varied conceits and cook up a number for them to perform together? After all, they had Marc Shaiman right there, and while his scores tend toward the treacly, when he’s given the chance to be cheeky with his music, the result is usually winning. And thus everyone bounds forward with a a game let’s-put-on-a-show! mentality.

Surely I’m wrong, and the closing credits were always meant to be accompanied by a musical number that plays on and then inverts the sentiments of the movie. While my speculation of loosey-goosey inventiveness tacks one a touch of charm, the song is splendid enough without it. In fact, it captures the spirit Down with Love was obviously going for better than the film itself, which is disappointingly uneven. I will admit to a inherent weakness for a song with lyrics like “You make Dean Martin look like a Quaker” and “We took Manahattan without the bitters/ We’re staying put, last call’s for quitters,” not to mention the inspired rhyming of “whistle” with “this’ll.” Especially arriving some soon after the nineteen-nineties, when movie music was dominated by hideous Diane Warren compositions and other songs of that ilk, “Here’s to Love” was like, well, a good stiff drink.

Listen or download –> Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger, “Here’s To Love”

(Disclaimer: While there may very well be some oddball movie music or Marc Shaiman collections out there that serve as a home to this song, I believe the Down with Love soundtrack to be out of print as a physical object that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a way that duly compensates the proprietor of said store, the composer, and the two movie stars handling the vocalizing chores. This song is then shared with the understanding and belief that doing so causes no undue fiscal harm to anyone. And, anyway, fair use should still be a thing. Still, I will gladly and promptly remove the song if asked to do so by any entity or individual with due authority to make such a request.)

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