LOVE & OTHER DRUGS
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The 1990s were a time of economic growth and a new decade of decadence. Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young pharmaceutical salesman who learns to woo his clients but soon falls in love with terminally ill Maggie (Anne Hathaway). While Maggie learns to deal with her early-onset Parkinson’s disease, Jamie learns what it’s like to really give your heart to someone and actually fall in love.
WHAT I LIKED
I think that the title “Love & Other Drugs” along with the overt rom com marketing push this film received actually hurt it more than it did help. This movie is far from your standard romantic comedy. While it has plenty of humorous moments, and there is of course a romance in there, it’s a deeper film that touches on heavier emotional moments.
I liked the difference this film represents, and that’s not a big surprise for someone familiar with director Edward Zwick’s work. He doesn’t do formula films, and we don’t get a standard formula with this film at all.
The performances are the heart and soul of the piece. Gyllenhaal manages to play the womanizer who grows subtly throughout the film. Hathaway has a charm and likeability that lets the viewer feel for her even at her darkest moments.
It’s not necessarily ideal for date night because the movie steps in some rough territory, but it’s definitely something that a couple can watch and enjoy.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the good-looking leads spend plenty of time without their clothes on. Everyone should enjoy something about that.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While the actors were able to breathe some heartfelt life into the characters of this film, they had a lot to overcome. In general, I’m not wild about characters that are deliberate jerks, and both Jamie and Maggie slip into this. I understand the sympathy we are to feel for Maggie, but if you read between the lines, you’ll see she had alienated everyone in her life long before she was diagnosed.
Additionally, even though Zwick does a decent job navigating the romantic comedy minefield, he steps into a couple traps. Secondary characters played by Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria and particularly Jamie’s brother played by Josh Gad just seem too cheesy and formulaic for what this film is trying to achieve.
Finally, and this is a pet peeve of mine, the film tries to feel retro by setting itself more than 10 years ago in the 90s, but there are too many anachronisms (like inaccurately available flip phones and 80s-sized boom boxes) that reek of poor production research.
The two-disc set includes a disc for digital copy as well as the Blu-ray. Special features include a slate of deleted scenes, plus four featurettes. “Love & Other Drugs: An Actor’s Discussion” looks at the acting process. “Beautifully Complex: Anne Hathaway Is Maggie” and “Reformed Womanizer: Jake Gyllenhaal Is Jamie” spotlight the leads. “Selling Love & Other Drugs” looks at the inspirations for this movie and the sales process in pharmaceuticals in the 1990s.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
The date crowd who can handle a more series romantic comedy.