Movie Review: Love and Other Drugs
Length: 112 minutes
Release Date: November 4, 2010
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
Stars: 3 out of 5
"Love and Other Drugs" is a 2010 romantic comedy written and directed by Edward Zack, and based on Jamie Reidy's nonfiction book "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman." The film stars the attractive Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal of "Brokeback Mountain."
This is the story of a relatively young Parkinson's patient who falls in love with a pharmaceutical representative in the 1990s. Jamie Randall's (Jake Gyllenhaal) relentless and almost infallibly charming character enables him to have his way with women and to forge his way ahead in the competitive pharmaceutical sales world until he meets Maggie, who turns his life around.
Jamie is a charming, handsome and callow electronics salesman, but he loses his job when he sleeps with his boss' wife. His brother, Josh Randall (Josh Gad), suggests a new job that pays $100,000 annually, and Jamie becomes a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer in Pittsburgh in 1996. Viagra and Prozac are hitting the market for the first time, and Jamie is trying to get hospitals to prescribe Zoloft and not Prozac. One of his favorite methods of spotlighting the meds he peddles is bedding beautiful medical secretaries, as he strives to become the leading field agent for Pfizer. Jamie meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) while posing as an intern after bribing Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) at the hospital where she is a patient. He conducts a medical examination of her breasts.
Maggie is free-spirited and radiant but suffers from the early stages of Parkinson's disease. Her energetic sex with no attachment, coupled with wit, is a match for Jamie's feckless charm. The pair begins a casual relationship, and Jamie's commitment-phobic, ladder-climbing lifestyle starts crumbling. Jamie falls in love with Maggie and does not even falter when he learns that she has a degenerative neurological condition that will make her gradually deteriorate physically until she is totally incapacitated. This is around the time Viagra is hitting the market, and he ends up becoming a super salesman.
Maggie has been avoiding commitment because of her illness, but everything changes when she meets Jamie. The two never imagined falling in love, but they are taken by surprise when they discover their love is the most powerful drug on the market. However, when Jamie begins the quest for her cure, Maggie makes it clear that entangled alliances, pity and her disease are not to be brought to the table.
The strong characters portrayed in Hathaway's and Gyllenhaal's roles give "Love and Other Drugs" insight into human nature. The chemistry between the two is great, and a strong supporting cast enhances their performances. Hathaway successfully brings out the beautifully complex character of Maggie, and Jake is outstanding in his performance as a reformed womanizer. Director Edward Zwick focused on exploring the characters' emotions, which made the movie a bit sappy. However, the performances of the costars saved it from being pushed into melodrama.
Zwick created a film that combines romantic comedy with disease motif, which spurs introspection about the true nature of love and the sacrifices made by an individual in love with someone suffering a degenerative illness. This makes for quite a memorable film, even though it is not ranked among the greatest romantic comedies. Zwick has steered away from the formulaic romantic comedy, meshing buoyant sequences of two competing pharmaceutical salesmen with the more grave scenes involving Parkinson's disease. He has managed to make "Love and Other Drugs" a film that depicts the peaks and valleys of real life. The realistic aspects of "Love and Other Drugs" are especially brought out in the fairly nonprovocative, casual nudity and mild sex scenes. You can only see Gyllenhaal's derriere and Hathaway's buxom bosom so many times before they turn into just another component of the scenery. This balance is certainly to Zwick's credit.
The moral of "Love and Other Drugs" is essentially criticizing pharmaceutical companies for investing heavily in medications like Viagra, which may be deemed unnecessary, rather than in the treatment of conditions that are truly debilitating, like Parkinson's. Edward Zwick has managed to merge romantic comedy with the sickness genre, creating a film that realistically depicts how life often plays out.