Sunday, December 4, 2016

Movie Review: "Love & Other Drugs" (2010)

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Movie"Love & Other Drugs"
Director: Edward Zwick
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

A womanizing Pfizer drug representative (Jake Gyllenhaal) falls for a young woman with early onset Parkinson's disease. Now, he must come to terms with what being with this one woman long term truly means. 

"Love & Other Drugs" is directed by Edward Zwick, who is best known for his films "The Last Samurai" and "Blood Diamond." This romantic drama is a bit of a different speed than the two aforementioned films. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall, a former electronics salesman whose womanizing ways has cost him quite a few jobs over the years. For his latest job, he is a Pfizer drug representative, which means it is his job to convince doctors to prescribe patients Zoloft instead of generics brands or a competing anti-depressant drug. He does this by wining and dining doctors, getting them laid, and even buying them vacations until they acquiesce. At one doctor's office while posing as an intern, he meets Maggie, played by Anne Hathaway. She is there receiving treatment for early onset Parkinson's disease. After some persistence, they start a relationship that begins simply as meaningless sex, but over time, their friends with benefits relationship starts to blossom into something more, you know, that ol' cliche.

"Love & Other Drugs" had a chance to really do and say something much more interesting and compelling with its subject matters. It had the opportunity to be an indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, but it winds up feeling more like an extended advertisement for Pfizer, and in particular, Viagra. Much of the focus of the movie is on the success of Viagra and how it was that drug that made Jamie all his money. It touches briefly on Maggie's struggles, being only 26 years old and having Parkinson's disease, which has the stigma of being a disease for "old people," but it never fully reaches the depth or the extent we would have hoped Zwick and company would want to explore for such an untapped type of story. Maggie's Parkinson diagnosis is almost always talked about in relation to Randall and how it makes him feel that he has to deal with and sometimes cope with her illness. Randall has a bit of a character arc as he turns from a womanizer to someone who can be monogamous for essentially the first time in his life, and Maggie's arc involves the same, plus her struggle to become more and more accepting of her long-term illness and her built up anger and resentment towards her situation. They also struggle coming to terms with how Maggie's illness will impact their future together and question whether or not they are both mature enough and ready enough for a life they didn't expect. In this respect, Zwick takes a risk by exploring a more adult relationship dealing with heavy issues, but his execution is very shallow for such a deep and interesting subject matter. Luckily, the acting is mostly solid from Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, so the film is not a total loss.

The problems in "Love & Other Drugs" arise from behind the scenes choices in its narrative, its uneven script tone, and its pacing. It feels pretty cheesy in its grandiose proclamations of love, but after spending over 2 hours showing us characters that are "better than grandiose proclamations of love" and beating this notion over the heads of the viewers, it feels super messy and disingenuous to then turn around and have it the opposite way, even if our characters have grown. Zwick takes his time with certain aspects of the story, but the entire thing feels dragging in length. It's always nice to see two top actors like Gyllenhaal and Hathaway do what they love, but in such a non-committal, all over the place piece, it's frustrating to think of what could have been a really compelling and thoughtful film in "Love & Other Drugs."

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 49%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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