By: Mark Di Stefano
Rating: 7 out of 10
The holiday season is upon us, which means that Oscar season is in full swing. Films are being released now in the hopes that they’ll be fresh in the minds of Oscar voters. Love and Other Drugs, the latest from director Edward Zwick, isn’t bound to get any awards, but it’s a good crowd pleaser for the time being.
Edward Zwick (director of the award winning films The Last Samurai and Glory) brings us a more light-hearted, humorous story this time around. The film takes place in 1996, at the rise of pharmaceutical companies and the birth of the little pill that could, Viagra. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie, the black-sheep in a family that prides on success. His brother (played by the funny Josh Gad) suggests he becomes a sales representative for Zoloft. Jamie uses his charms and wit to persuade clients, mostly female, to prescribe Zoloft. Along the way he meets Maggie (played by Anne Hathaway), who is just as free-spirited and charming as Jamie. What begins as a sex-only relationship eventually blossoms into something else: a real connection. Love begins to blossom despite the obstacles to come. Jamie gets promoted to speak for a new drug called Viagra, and Maggie is a stage one Parkinson’s patient. As the relationship progresses Jamie discovers what can be possible with Maggie and Maggie battles her secret desires for Jamie.
Zwick (who also co-wrote the film) brings together a great supporting cast featuring Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt and Gabriel Macht. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are prime examples of pure acting talent of their generation. The chemistry feels pure and raw at the same time. Hathaway’s portrayal of a Parkinson’s patient trying not to think of the hardships ahead must be noted. Josh Gad is a great comic relief, using his awkwardness and physical stature to bring humor into the mix.
Despite the great performances the story falls a little flat. There were constant gags involving Viagra, including one where a certain character had drug reaction that lasted for more than 4 hours (if you catch my drift). Also, there was constant sex related material throughout. The amount of sex Gyllenhaal and Hathaway have on screen is almost equal to Demi Moore and Rob Lowe in About Last Night… (which Zwick directed as well). The sex is so gratuitous, that it actually becomes distracting. Some of the sex humor is funny, but it almost veers the audience away from the performances. As Zwick’s second outing in the romantic-comedy genre of film one would think the faults from the first attempt would be made, apparently not.
Despite its shortcomings, it’s performances manages to hold the film together. The performances by Gyllenhaal, Hathaway, and the rest of the cast manage to save the film. Love and Other Drugs is a good bet for adults when the rest of the films this season are geared towards the holiday crowd.
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