REVIEWS: “Love and Other Drugs”
SHULL: Film is full of ridiculous montages and clichés
“Love and Other Drugs” stars Jake Gyllenhaal as pharmaceutical salesman Jamie Randall, Anne Hathaway as love interest Maggie Murdock and Hank Azaria as Dr. Stan Knight. It was directed by Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, Defiance).
The film centers around Jamie Randall and his start in the ruthlessly competitive world of pharmaceutical sales in the late 90’s. From the first scene of the film we see him as a high energy, charming womanizer and a natural salesman. His employer, Pfizer, has him stalking hospitals and doctors to unload as much of the drug, Zoloft, as humanly possible.
Jamie quickly learns the ropes of his new profession. He adapts to the extensive politics of this new world and soon finds himself on a first name basis with the hospital staff and the doctors whose business he pursues.
During one of his hospital visits, with Dr. Knight, he meets the equally charming Maggie Murdock. She is there to refill a prescription for her early onset (she is 26) of Parkinson’s disease. Jamie sees her as another conquest and she recognizes him as a player. Deciding to just go with it, they find themselves back at her place a few minutes into the first date, screwing wildly in her kitchen. They decide to keep it casual and continue the purely sexual relationship.
This is where the film just starts to fall apart. After every sexual encounter, Maggie is sure to remind Jamie that this relationship is just casual and will remain that way. It is brought up enough to make anyone blue in the face. Although the audience immediately recognizes her impersonal point of view as a defense mechanism (she is convinced that as her Parkinson’s progresses, anyone close to her will leave) she continues to beat us across the head with it.
This film just doesn’t seem to know what it is. One moment it’s a romantic comedy and the next moment it is a career-based drama. The scenes are roughly stitched together without any real harmony or organic flow. The pithy dialogue seems pieced together from randomly picked, rejected spec scripts, salvaged from the recycle bin in the “Gilmore Girls” production office.
Although, at times, Anne Hathaway’s real acting talent shines through the ridiculous montages and clichés that saturate the film, it is just not enough. Even the fact that she’s naked throughout most of the film doesn’t help make it much more watchable. And let me tell you, that’s saying a lot because she looks good.
I do realize I am not the film’s intended demographic. I do think though, that their target audience (women 18 to 49) will not think much more about this film than I did. It is too predictable and clichéd. As far as Chick Flicks go, it’s definitely not up to par with “The Notebook.” And yes I did like that one. Feel free to make fun of me for that, but only if you have seen it and didn’t enjoy it. I dare you.
WIEGENSTEIN: Watching this film is a chore
“Love And Other Drugs” is about sex. Okay, not entirely — but as large chunks of the film’s promotion seem to center on its two attractive leads being disrobed, it felt wrong to not mention.
In fact, the latest from director Edward Zwick is about sex on several different levels: not only is it a key factor in the early relationship between artsy free-spirit Maggie (Anne Hathaway) and yuppie Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), but it provides Jamie with an unexpected rise to the top of the pharma-salesman ladder. After months of unsuccessfully trying to unseat Prozac as the depression drug of choice, he’s now in possession of something totally new – a magical blue pill named Viagra.
Jamie’s a sharklike charmer, a trait Gyllenhaal can pull off expertly. He can sniff out the slightest amount of give in a certain clinic receptionist and immediately begin courting whoever he must in order to advance himself and his Pfizer coworker (an excellently bedraggled-looking Oliver Platt). In Maggie, he seems to have met his match when it comes to no-strings, no-feelings sex. But of course, a movie relationship between two people as pretty as Gyllenhaal and Hathaway is destined to deepen. This usually leads up to a scene where one party says to the other, “I know you’re scared! I know you’ve been hurt before!” and so forth.
A plot wrinkle — Maggie has Stage 1 Parkinson’s Disease, an illness that both of them attempt to ignore as much as possible until absolutely necessary. Hathaway plays the anger, and utter frustration that comes with a neurological disorder, and a scene featuring other Parkinson’s sufferers is exceptionally well done. Her chemistry with Gyllenhaal (previously paired together as husband and wife in “Brokeback Mountain”) is good while naked, but even more fetching when the two of them bum around eating takeout.
But with every additional plot thread “Love And Other Drugs” attempts to stuff in, the film as a whole is consequently weakened. It’s a little bit “Up In The Air,” it tries out being “Garden State” before throwing in a smidge of “Sweet November.” (And even a smidge is far too much.) Scenes featuring Jamie’s brother, who looks like he stumbled out of a Judd Apatow buddy comedy, are funny while they last, but ultimately contribute to a disjointed final product. As developed as sections of the movie are, “Love And Other Drugs” ends up being significantly less than the sum of its parts.
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