Down to You (2000)

Al Connelly (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a college sophomore and the son of a television chef, who hopes to become a chef himself some day. He meets Imogen (Julia Stiles), a freshman, when his roommate kicks him out of their dorm for the night.

(Image via impawards.com)

(Image via impawards.com)

The two are immediately attracted to each other. Though Imogen wants to enjoy her youth and had promised herself that she wouldn’t jump into a relationship into her first year of college, they inevitably begin dating.

Complications and misunderstandings ensue for the young couple in Down to You, a film which tells the story of their relationship from both of their perspectives. The film was written and directed by Kris Isacsson.

Down to You is not a riotous teen comedy, though there are elements of that genre. A subplot involves one of Al’s friends working in the “adult entertainment” industry, for example. And Rosario Dawson pops up as a stoner friend of Imogen. I found these elements of the story to be somewhat obnoxious, but if you can look past them (and the cheesy lip-syncing scenes), what we have here is an at times melancholy, but generally true-to-life depiction of college relationships.

Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles are well-cast in their roles — Prinze as a straight-laced and goal-driven young man, Stiles as an equally ambitious but more free-spirited young woman. This contrast between the two characters may seem contrived, but it’s certainly not unheard of in the real world. “Opposites attract” is the mantra of many a young romance, though the field of social psychology has proven that the opposite is true. The two stars have nice chemistry, and as a couple they’re very believable.

In addition to the performances of the two leads, I liked the “told from two points of view” gimmick in this film. Imogen and Al sometimes break the fourth wall, speaking directly to the viewer about their take on a certain moment in the relationship. Though this clearly is a gimmick to set the film apart from others of its type, it doesn’t come off that way, because it isn’t overused. Imogen and Al aren’t turning to the camera at the end of every scene to give commentary — it’s just peppered in every once in a while, to explain their differences in interpretation of certain events.

As a little bonus, TMP favorite Henry Winkler makes an appearance as Al’s father, a charismatic but somewhat overbearing television host.

Down to You isn’t a perfect film or one of the best of the early millennium, but it does have several positive attributes. I’d consider it worth a watch for fans of either of the two leads, or those who (like me) have a soft spot for the era’s romantic comedies. The score: 3/5

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