Wednesday, December 22, 2010

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (2010)

Written by Charles Randolph and Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz


Directed by Edward Zwick


Where & When: Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles, CA. December 4, 2010  9:45PM


"Love & Other Drugs" is the latest entry of the romantic dramedy that attempts to alter the well-worn path that these films tend to go down. This time we have the unlikely romance of two young people who are both very messed-up  but their biggest problem is that both are either afraid (her) or incapable (him) of being able to say, "I love you".

The year is 1996 and Jake Gyllenhaal  plays Jamie, a smooth-talking  player who makes a sport of bedding as many different women as possible and then discarding them like the used tissue that he used to clean himself afterwards. He just lost his job at an electronic store, after screwing his boss's girlfriend, so he decides to become a pharmaceutical sales rep.

Jamie goes to work for Pfizer and with his partner, Bruce (Oliver Platt) set about trying to get doctors to prescribe the drug, Zoloft to their patients instead of Prozac. They aren't having much luck but Jamie is determined so he decides to become creative. He knows that if he can get Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) to make the switch, all of the other doctors will follow, so Jamie pays the doctor to allow him to shadow him so he can convince him to try his drug.

Jamie is in the room while Dr. Knight is seeing a patient and he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), an attractive young woman who is in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease. She is concerned about a mark on her breast and since she is told Jamie is an intern, she shows the doctor the lump. It turns out to be nothing more than a spider bite.

While Jamie is leaving the office, he is whacked on the head by a pissed-off Maggie who has just discovered that he nothing more than a sales representative. Jamie apologizes before having the nerve to ask her out. She declines his offer but Jamie is determined, so he manages to gets her phone number and talks her into meeting with him.

During their date, Jamie is trying his best to charm Maggie right out of her pants but despite knowing that's all he wants, she decides to forget about the small talk and just have sex with him, since that is all that they both want anyway.

Jamie now finds her even more appealing but Maggie will only continue to see him as long as it doesn't become serious which, for now, is perfectly fine with him. One evening, when Jamie is having some difficulty "rising to the occasion", Maggie tell him about this new drug that has just come out to help men with this problem called Viagra. Jamie realizes he knows exactly how to sell this drug. He goes to his partner to look in to selling it and after he does, Jamie becomes very rich and successful.

Soon, Jamie realizes that he wants more than just sex in a relationship and tells Maggie that he loves her, which is the first time he has ever done that in his life. Maggie is resistant to the idea but soon gives in because she also knows that she has feelings for him. Their relationship is put to a challenge when Maggie's disease starts to progress. Jamie begins working hard by researching Parkinson's and traveling across the country to talk with specialists to try and help Maggie. After they attend a conference on Parkinson's, Maggie and Jake both realize that their future together may be very difficult and are they really ready to handle what could lie ahead?

You see plenty of skin and actual sexuality in this film, which really shouldn't be so unusual for a romantic comedy but most tend to only just talk about sex and cut away before the clothing comes off. Mr. Zwick has used this approach before with his first feature film, "About Last Night. . ."  back in 1986 which is a much stronger film, in part because it's source material was based on a play by the accomplished David Mamet but also it featured characters who you clearly understood where they were coming from and you wanted them to work out the problems in their relationship. The two lovebirds in "Love" never come across like the perfect match and have so many obstacles working against them that it just seems that they never had plausible chance for any success. I just kept thinking that they probably would be better off just moving on and maybe try and be friends. While there are plenty of entertaining moments, the biggest problem is that the light comedy and the dark drama just are not successfully blending together well enough to make it feel like a cohesive film.

The film is helped by a strong supporting cast that include Josh Gad who plays Josh, Jamie's wealthier but just as messed-up younger brother, Judy Greer as a helpful receptionist and a way too brief appearance by George Segal and the late Jill Clayburgh as Jamie's parents.

Ms Hathaway slips easily into the type of role that Julia Roberts would be playing at the beginning of her career, in fact there are times in the film when she physically looks like Ms Roberts plus they both share the same engaging demeanor and sexy charm but she brings her own special moments to the part.

Mr. Gyllenhaal delivers another great performance and is perfect as character who starts off as nothing more than a womanizing jerk but he manages to discover, with the help of a woman who sees right through his nonsense, that he is capable of giving more of himself than he ever thought possible.

While "Love and Other Drugs" is far from a completely satisfying romantic comedy, it is still a nice diversion and much better than most of these comedies that have been dumped in theaters the past few years.