Love and Other Drugs
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Hank Azaria, Judy Greer, Oliver Platt, Gabriel Macht, George Segal, Josh Gad
NYU, Class of 2012
"I am nobody's little weasel." -Amelie, from Amelie
Love and Other Drugs
Review By: Angela Char
Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a hound; an attractive, charming, intelligent hound. He uses his wiles to sell electronics to women at his job, and when that doesn’t pan out, to get a new job selling drugs to doctors for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. One day, having convinced a doctor to let him masquerade as an intern, he meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). From this first meeting he gleans two items of interest: that she looks fantastic with her shirt off, and that she has Parkinson’s disease. But he’s really only interested in the first. Maggie doesn’t mind, and a half hour into the film, our protagonists are on the floor, wriggling and writhing in delight. Love and Other Drugs is a film that, like its characters, tells you all its flaws upfront, and then asks you to love it. And I tried, I really did, but somehow it never worked out.
I think it was the montages. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a montage; they’re a convenient and often effective way to show change without adding another two hours to the film. But to show a montage at every significant narrative turn just feels lazy. The thing about a montage is that very little of it is specific, and both Jamie and Maggie could have used some specificity. To stand out from the other “casual-sex-turns-into-true-love” movies available right now (examples include No Strings Attached and soon, Friends with Benefits), Jamie needed to be more than a hound with a hidden heart of gold, and Maggie more than a bohemian spirit harboring deep insecurities. To their credit, Hathaway and Gyllenhaal do the best they can. Gyllenhaal is believable despite his predictable trajectory. Hathaway is even touching. There are moments that it seems, just for her sake, the film won’t keep returning to rom-com cliches. Trey Hannigan (Gabriel Macht), Bruce Winston (Oliver Platt), Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria), and Josh Randall (Josh Gad) play, respectively, Jamie’s work nemesis, boss, inappropriate client, and mooching brother. Despite their various interactions with Maggie, this supporting cast belongs in another movie. Their screwball humor is entertaining, but wholly at odds with the “Love” portion of Love and Other Drugs.
Which brings us to “and Other Drugs”. Jamie’s charm quickly prevails, and soon he’s hawking the golden egg of pills: Viagra. What’s puzzling about this is that initially, Jamie had issue with his new profession, with what he saw as the undiscerning over-medication of naive patients. This, like Parkinson’s, is a serious issue, deserving of careful consideration and treatment. Where did this concern go? What does Viagra really have to do with this film? And, barring this, why on earth did no one wonder if too many penis
All of this said, there are a few wonderful moments in the film. In one scene, an elderly man tells Jamie that he is the husband of a woman with Stage 4 Parkinson’s. This man tells Jamie that he loves his wife, that he stands by his wife, but that if he had known when he was younger what loving her would entail, that he could never do it again.
Director Edward Zwick has made an ambitious film. It is a film that tries consistently to be more than what it is, and very occasionally succeeds. It is, however, by no means a good film. But I wish, I really do wish, that it was.
The Blu-ray Disc comes with deleted scenes, comments from the actors, character descriptions, and live extras provided by BD Live.