REVIEW: Love & Other Drugs

4 12 2010

There’s an interesting commentary on the pharmaceutical industry at the heart of “Love & Other Drugs,” a prevalent enough part of the story to make it into the title.  But it’s the love part of the name that takes control of the movie and ultimately devalues the larger and more relevant message.  Like a pimple, the romance grows and grows until it virtually envelops the face.

Granted, this is an incredibly attractive pimple.  The film’s historical background in dealing with Viagra gives it free reign to go crazy on the sexuality, and director Edward Zwick runs with the opportunity.  It’s practically soft-core porn starring two young, attractive stars in Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.  But the movie is more than just two constantly and completely naked stars on a bed; it develops the emotional out of the physical.

The nudity isn’t meant to titillate so much as it is to be honest.  It removes the sheets of pretense from the bedfellows, Jamie the womanizing Viagra salesman (Gyllenhaal) and his latest squeeze Maggie, a passionate but insecure lover affected by stage 1 Parkinson’s (Hathaway), and leaves their character naked.  The two nudities complement each other beautifully, and these are two fascinating portraits of people trying to figure out where their lives are heading.

These characters would hardly be as vidid were they not inhabited by Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, two stars who use the movie to show off more than their bodies.  “Love & Other Drugs” is their movie, and they assert control and command from the first frame.  Their allure is positively seductive, their charm dynamite, and the chemistry potent enough to put a new drug on the market.  They delve deep into the psyches of their characters, pulling out performances of great emotional authenticity.

But unfortunately, their work is derailed by the confused script that can’t decide if it wants to be a social commentary or a romantic comedy.  Rather than choose one to be the major component of the movie, it constantly vacillates, often blending the two together in a very unsavory manner.  The genres mix like oil and water, and no matter how good Hathaway and Gyllenhaal are, they can’t salvage the pill of “Love & Other Drugs” from having some nauseating side effects.

The plot has some serious issues, particularly the sudden and unexplained change of focus from the romantic relationship of the characters to their search for a Parkinson’s cure.  Zwick also manages to think that just because the movie’s nudity is so bold, he can disguise a clichéd romantic plot as fresh, but it’s clear to any viewer that this story is way past its expiration date.  Not to mention the movie’s total disrespect of Parkinson’s in general, just having it pop up uncontrollably in Maggie when it seems convenient.  There are also plenty of supporting characters are poorly developed, such as Jamie’s insecure, horny younger brother played by Josh Gad and Maggie’s doctor with a voracious sexual appetite played by Hank Azaria.

It’s such a shame that the good things about the movie stop at Hathaway and Gyllenhaal.  Thanks to the poor story they are fed, “Love & Other Drugs” becomes little more than a nice showing of their bodies and acting prowess. B-



2 responses

4 12 2010

The movie depends on these two to give off a good, genuine chemistry, and well they succeed with that. The only problem is that the rest of the film can’t keep up on their end of the bargain, and packs right into cliches, and sappy romance by the end.

13 12 2010

loved your review- I have to write mine soon- but I 100 percent agree with you – bit of a mess

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