Love & Other Drugs is a zany, thought-provoking dramedy about romance, mortality and Big Pharma. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway star as a couple falling into lust and love.
Big Pharma career begins
Youth, good luck and ambition rule as Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal) embarks on a new career in pharmaceutical sales. “It’s the only entry level job where you start at $100K,” his software millionaire brother Josh (Josh Gad) marvels.
Jamie meets sarcastic, sexy Maggie Murdock (Hathaway) while he’s shadowing Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) during rounds. She bares her breast as he looks on. She has early onset Parkinson’s disease.
Salesman seeks romance
When Bohemian artist Maggie discovers that Jamie is a salesman and not an intern, she decks him in the parking lot. The two won’t admit it, but it’s love at first fight.
Ravenous sex and manic energy give way to melodrama in the film’s second half. Sex is the drug, an escape from life for both Jamie and Maggie. This becomes an uneven seesaw of tragedy and everyday triumphs.
Geeky Josh adds smutty gags after a breakup with his girlfriend forces him to camp out on Jamie’s couch.
Drama and slapstick don’t mix
Director Edward Zwick fails to stretch rom-com into medical drama. In Big Pharma’s world, disease is the focus, not the patient. Zwick raises awareness, but zaniness no longer fits.
Jamie loves Maggie much to his terror. He’s never told a woman he loves her before. Does Maggie love Jamie? Jamie meets the husband of a stage four Parkinson’s victim. Does he really want to stay with Maggie?
It’s 1998, the age of Big Pharma and medical miracles. Viagra is about to be released. Jamie is poised for super success. The little blue pill is the drug everyone wants!
Seeking Parkinson’s cure
Oliver Platt is super as Jamie’s company mentor who dreams of topping sales records so he can settle down with his family in Chicago.
Maggie gives up. Jamie has dragged her to lectures around the country. Progress and even cures are documented with chelation therapy and other approaches. Maggie insists there is no cure. She only believes in drugs.
Gyllenhaal and Hathaway needed better direction here. Nude scenes for both actors and plenty of foul language add to the bumpy ride.
Maggie becomes health advocate
Maggie is lovely and wary (with abundant close-ups of Hathaway’s radiant grin). Later she becomes a health advocate for the elderly. It’s a big stretch for wisecracking Maggie.
Fine supporting roles are delivered by George Segal as Jamie’s successful doctor dad, and the late Jill Clayburgh as his radiant mom.
The film is loosely based on Hard Sell, a memoir by former Viagra sales rep Jamie Reidy. (3 out of 5 stars)
Love and Other Drugs 2010 / R / 1 hour, 53 min
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht, Jill Clayburgh, George Segal
Director: Edward Zwick
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Dramedy