Movie ReviewsRating: 4 of 5 yaps

Love and Other Drugs

Here’s a fairly conventional romantic drama that does a fantastic job of showing off the charms of two very attractive performers, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s almost a throwback to an old-fashioned type of movie-making in which stars were stars, and it was the job of the director, screenwriter and crew to make them look as good as possible.

“Love and Other Drugs” is set in the late 1990s when Viagra first hit the market, and Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, the salesman who was born to hock it. Good-looking and with a rogue-ish charm that he uses to great effect, Jamie has a twinkly smile that melts the heart of the orneriest receptionist guarding access to the doctors he needs to pitch.

Jamie comes from a family of physicians (George Segal and the late Jill Clayburgh play the parents) but was a med school washout. Even his slovenly younger brother Josh (Josh Gad) is a dot-com millionaire.

He’s eager to please — “I’m very trainable” is his pet phrase — and hides his self-loathing behind a charismatic veneer built on can-do ambition.

Jamie’s not above playing dirty. A Pfizer man, he dumps the drug samples from his chief competitor from Lily (Gabriel Macht) into the dumpster, and bribes an influential doc (Hank Azaria) to let him tag along on patient rounds, posing as an intern.

There he meets Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), a waitress with Parkinson’s and an attitude. After baring her breast during the exam, she clocks Jamie in the head upon learning he’s a pharmaceutical rep.

In classic meet-cute form, in moments he transforms her anger into admiration for his magnetism. Soon they’re in bed, but Maggie lays out the rules: Just empty sex, no relationship. I don’t think I have to tell you this rule gets shattered.

Director Edward Zwick, who co-wrote the script with Charles Randolph and Marshall Herskovitz, is better known for testosterone-laden flicks with a martial bent (“Courage Under Fire,” “Glory”). His touch is light and sure, and he knows how to give Hathaway and Gyllenhaal that extra bit of star sparkle.

Maggie’s disease, which is merely a reason for them to meet initially, takes on more weight as the narrative adopts an increasingly somber tone. The similarity to “Love Story” — about a young cad who grows up when his lady has a life-changing illness — is more than passing.

They’re a solid pair of performances, as the actors show us layers to their characters we might not have initially guessed at.

They’re also revealing in another way — as in both actors show off an astonishing amount of skin. I can’t remember the last time I saw two mainstream stars partaking in this much nudity.

The supporting performances are tidy and worthwhile. Oliver Platt plays Jamie’s senior partner, who’s hoping to ride his coattails to a spot in the Chicago office. Judy Greer is a slightly awkward receptionist who falls prey to Jamie’s charms.

Azaria gets one nice scene where the doctor laments dealing with HMOs, drug companies and litigious lawyers instead of just making people’s lives a little better.

Gad is the go-to man for comic relief, moving in with Jamie after his own marriage fails. Although, as Jamie himself finally thinks to ask, why does a multi-millionaire need to shack up with his brother?

“Love and Other Drugs” is sweet, funny, sad and occasionally even moves us a little. Despite the title, it doesn’t really have anything insightful to say about drug companies making a profit by having doctors pump us full of medicine that may not even help us very much.

Call this movie a pleasant little placebo — it may not make the world a better place, but it tastes good going down.

4 Yaps

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8 Responses to “Love and Other Drugs”

  1. Sara McGuyer says:

    Nice Review. This one is definitely on my list!

  2. Dan Dark says:

    I saw this movie hoping it was a little bit more than the typical romance comedy. I don’t know why I thought it would be, maybe just hoping. The only moment that kind of transcended the genre was when people with Parkinsons were speaking to a support group, giving a real face (and real humor) to people with the disease. I kind of wish something like that happened earlier in the film, I think it would have given a lot more depth to Hathaway’s character and the movie in general.

  3. Jamaica says:

    I thought this movie was absolutely dreadful. If it wasn’t for all the sex and nudity, I would have walked out 30 minutes in.

  4. Michael Donley says:

    My wife is a pharma rep, so I will be seeing this if I want to or not.

  5. Sheryl Messersmith says:

    I found the comment "… and he knows how to give Hathaway and Gyllenhaal that extra bit of star sparkle." interesting. They are 2 of my favorite current day actors and in my opinion don’t normally need an extra bit of star sparkle. I am looking forward to seeing how they work together and hope the sparks fly.

  6. Jake Bray says:

    went and saw this tonight and we loved it :)

  7. Amanda says:

    Well, I think the best friend and I shall definitely go see it. Thanks for the review.

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