Love and Other Drugs - Movie Review
Though there are a few films that were released this weekend I imagine you couldn't list any of them off to me. The apparent lack of audience for these films (at least in my area) forced me to jump back a week in order to provide you with a current film review. Seeing as how I chose to review a children’s movie (Tangled) last weekend that should be a good indicator of what I thought of the other options. In a rare turn of events, however, the low expectations I had of Love and Other Drugs when I walked into the theater had been completely shattered by the time I left. This film should be getting a lot more press than it is, and I'll tell you why.
Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhall, Prince of Persia) is a charismatic young stereo salesman who could sell a pair of headphones to a deaf man. After his endless charm gets him caught fooling around with his boss' girlfriend, Jamie is forced to search for other employment options. Thanks to a little help from his brother, Jamie lands a job as a drug representative for Pfizer in the Ohio Valley. Struggling to convince doctors to buy Zoloft instead of Prozac, Jamie is trying every angle possible to get his foot in the door. During one of his attempts Jamie meets a young women named Maggie (Anne Hathaway, Alice in Wonderland) who isn't affected by Jamie's charm. Nonetheless, a mutual desire for a purely physical relationship thrusts the two together time and again. What started out as simple and meaningless, however, becomes complicated as new feelings, and Maggie's disease, threaten to ruin this perfect pairing.
As far as romantic comedies go, Love and Other Drugs is probably the funniest film in the genre I have seen in quite some time. There is a really good balance between romance and comedy throughout the film, but the comedy is what really makes this film a winner in my book. Gyllenhall is really enjoyable to watch as he woos the ladies left and right, and he is at his best when playing off of Josh Gad (The Rocker) who plays his successful younger brother. Supporting cast members like Oliver Platt (2012) and Hank Azaria (Year One) deliver fantastic performances that complement the main story perfectly. Azaria in particular has some incredible moments due to his character's evolution from angry doctor looking for handouts to a man who is genuinely upset with the direction medicine is taking (this takes place in 1996 mind you). It is a really unexpected change that is both funny and intriguing and is wonderfully delivered by Azaria. I did not expect so many good things to come from this movie.
Love and Other Drugs is not without a few flaws. Hathaway's character seems somewhat one-dimensional in that she tends to deliver a lot of the same lines over and over again. I understand that her character is emotionally damaged, but this conflict should have been resolved early on or developed in some way beyond an increased frequency of those predictable lines. Poor development seems to be a common theme with most of the issues I have with this film. Jamie's parents, his brother’s success story, a competing drug rep, and a few key moments I won't spoil are never explained further than some brief moments of dialog. The love story itself is developed slightly better, but these other moments are the blocks on which this story is built and should have been paid a bit more attention. This is especially frustrating considering the film is almost 2 hours long (a no-no) and doesn't really fill all that time with anything more substantial than a series of gratuitous sex scenes.
Despite its flaws, Love and Other Drugs is a really funny movie with great performances all around. The romance isn't laid on thick (which may be why I like the film) but is still a driving force in the movie and creates some interesting moments. I wouldn't recommend this as a "first" date movie due to its extremely sexual nature, but established couples may appreciate the story laid out on screen. If you are looking to laugh, love, and maybe even cry, then go out and see Love and Other Drugs.
Sunday, November 23, 2014, Watertown, NY