Monday, April 4, 2011

To my surprise, "Love and Other Drugs" has more to offer than celebrity skin: B

I'm not a huge fan of the romance genre. It's not that I don't have a soul, it's just that my real life, my real romantic life, is the kind you see in the movies anyhow. Before I met my man, I friggin' loved watching romantic movies. Oh, how I used to crave the sort of love and affection I saw in "The Notebook!" But now that I'm set for life, these movies seem contrived and silly to me. So as I sit down to watch "Love and Other Drugs," I'm prepared for a couple hours of forced love...but that's not what I saw.

Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a Pfizer sales rep who moves boxes of Zoloft samples to local hospitals and doctors. He's your typical sales guy: a charming, relentless, talkative, self-absorbed Casanova who's afraid of disappointing his upper-crust parents. As he attempts to close the sale with his biggest potential subscriber, Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria), Jamie meets one of his patients. Maggie Murdoch (Anne Hathaway) is a free-spirited, fast-talking, no-nonsense artist/photographer in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. Jamie and Maggie begin a very physical relationship, each making it clear that they don't want to get serious. **I'd like to note here that about 98% of the time in romantic movies, when two people repeatedly agree that they 'don't want anything serious' they usually end up falling in love with each other by the end - just something I've observed**

Jamie and Maggie have a lot of sex. (If you're at all squeamish, then you'll find yourself cringing at many points in the movie). Even though Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are two incredibly famous people with all the money in the world to maintain their superhuman forms, there was something very real about their scenes together. I do not find Gyllenhaal the slightest bit attractive, so I averted my eyes here and there to avoid seeing him in full form. But nonetheless, the movie did a great job of not over-exaggerating the sex. The more time they spend together, the more tender their love-making becomes - which leads you to the conclusion that there's a real connection between the characters.

As hard as she tries to push Jamie away, Maggie can't help but fall for him. She allows Jamie to sleep over and keep his things at her place. Soon enough, they are a couple - and a damn cute one at that. Jamie revels in the recent success of Pfizer's newest drug, Viagra, and starts to get a taste for the good life. As Jamie's future looks brighter, Maggie suffers at home as her Parkinson's gets worse. Fearing that she will become a burden and ruin Jamie's chances at being a true success, Maggie becomes cold and distant.

Jamie is then faced with the ugly truth. At a Parkinson's support convention, Jamie runs into a stranger who reveals that his wife is in Stage 4. The man bluntly tells Jamie that if he could go back, he would never do it again. He advises Jamie to get out of the relationship while he still can, before he loses Maggie to dementia and paralysis. It's an extremely intense scene, and the pivotal moment in the story. What the hell would you do?

I'm not going to tell you what Jamie does, just in case you haven't seen the movie yet. But I will tell you that "Love and Other Drugs" is a very sweet movie. Without being too cutesy, the movie accomplishes a real-life sense of romance and mixes in some hard truths about the pharmaceutical industry. It's sad that Pfizer spent so much time and money in developing a drug like Viagra, while people like Maggie had to catch a bus to Canada because they couldn't afford their prescriptions. There are good moments, sad moments, funny moments, and everything in between. Anne Hathaway is a brilliant actress, and I would have to say that this is one of her best performances (second only to "Rachel Getting Married"). As much as I want to bash Jake Gyllenhaal, he did a fine job too. The supporting cast adds an extra touch of humor: the hilarious younger brother Josh Randall (Josh Gad), Bruce (Oliver Platt), Jamie's mentor and fellow Pfizer rep and Trey (Gabriel Macht) as Jamie's Prozac-selling rival.

For what it is, "Love and Other Drugs" is a heartfelt dramedy that keeps you interested. Although it loses steam towards the end (they should have cut out 30 minutes or so), the movie was really fun to watch. The dialogue felt real, the sex scenes felt real, the relationship between Jamie and Maggie felt real. This movie made sense, and there wasn't any point where I was shouting at my TV saying, "Aw c'mon that would never happen!!" If you're in the mood for love, you should watch this one.

1 comment:

  1. I agree! I just saw this one recently myself and it's heavier and more thoughtful than your typical rom-com. And by the way, I'm a married man and even I think Jake Gyllenhaal is attractive! What's up with that?? :-) Good review.

    I'm new to your site and I like your tastes. We have similiar likes and dislikes, I can see. I added you to my blogroll, and I look forward to reading more of your stuff.



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