Love & Other Drugs (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
3Mar/110

Love & Other Drugs (2010)

ANDREW LIKEI can't deny that so much of this movie is wrong and a lot of that has to do with the first 30 minutes of the film.  I was annoyed, frustrated with Jake Gyllenhaal's performance, and an appearance by Oliver Platt spelled more exasperation than enjoyment.  Then after those thirty minutes were over Anne Hathaway's character showed up and suddenly the film was funny and touching until late film complications thrust it right back on the rails.

We open on Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a sales clerk at an electronics store who has a gift for selling the right item to the right customer.  Most of the time the item in question is his penis, and the right customer is any beautiful woman who crosses his path.  His womanizing ways get him fired from his job selling electronics and he uses his connections of his newly rich brother Josh (Josh Gad) to get a job as a medical representative for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.  He and his partner Bruce (Oliver Platt) peddle Zoloft and hope to convince Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) to start prescribing the drug in the hopes that it will get all the other doctors in the area to fall in line.

It's hard to sit through these opening moments while everything is getting established.  Gyllenhaal dials in his performance way beyond tolerable levels and comes off as a poor man's Dane Cook too often.  It's all high energy, "dude's" and "brah's", and a relentless arrogance that's supposed to be confidence.

Unfortunately, there isn't a single scene with Platt that could be salvaged from this film.

Then there's the annoying tendency of director Edward Zwick to remind us that we are in the 90's.  There's the overbearing use of songs from the 90's that manage to drown out dialogue, a strange emphasis on the technological gap between then and now, and a way too exaggerated appearance of the Macarena.  This tendency to shove the 90's on-screen spills onto some of the characters.  Jamie's brother got rich off of the internet and, surprise surprise, he's a bit overweight and kind of obnoxious.

I was dutifully slugging through these moments when Anne Hathaway's character Maggie finally showed up.  She suffers from Stage One Parkinson's disease and meets Jamie while Jamie is pretending to be an intern so that he can try and peddle Zoloft more.  The movie finally scored it's first big laugh when Maggie asks Dr. Knight to examine her breast and Jamie has the most unusually delighted expression on his face.

Jamie pursues Maggie relentlessly and the two fall into an easy pattern of sex that threatens to spill over into a relationship.  Maggie is pretty scared of this because of her own issues with Parkinson's and depression but Jamie seems to be able to love her as is.  The relationship that follows was so honest and tender that it completely overshadowed all of the over the top nonsense that preceded it.

The scenes with Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are so sincere that they seem to have wandered in from a good Cameron Crowe movie.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway previously played a married couple in Brokeback Mountain so it must have been nice for them to finally cut loose with their sensuality.  Their chemistry is amazing and manage to make their pseudo-frequent nude scenes playful and erotic at the same time (which, for some reason, a lot of movies shy away from).  There's still the ever present blanket that manages to cover just the woman's breasts and the man's crotch when they're conversing, but it takes enough breaks so that the film can have some fun with the sex.

What's kind of strange is how little the Viagra connection really plays out in the film.  After Maggie and Jamie start getting a little more serious Jamie and Bruce get the rights to peddle Viagra, which sends their stock in the company sky high.  Now there's not much you can do with Viagra as a plot device (except for one physically painful and pretty fun doctor's visit) but there's a large amount of dialogue in the movie dealing with it that goes nowhere.

That ends up being fine though, because even when the movie decides that it needs to have it's lovers have their inevitable problem the leads' chemistry never falters.  A little fine tuning and this could have been excellent.  But as it stands I'll take any film that realizes just how hard it is to say that first "I love you" and all the responsibilities that come with it.

Love & Other Drugs (2010)
Directed by Edward Zwick.
Screenplay by Edward Zwick, Charles Randolph, and Marshall Herskovitz.
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.

Posted by Andrew

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