Let’s just get it out there right from the start. The ladies love Jake Gyllenhaal. Their newest chance to see him is in ‘Love and Other Drugs’ as it arrives on DVD.
Back in 1996, Jamie (Gyllenhaal) gets a job in pharmaceutical sales thanks to his wealthy, slacker brother Josh (Josh Gad). He works for Pfizer and makes it his quest to get doctors to prescribe Zoloft. His partner, Bruce (Oliver Platt) tells him that Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) is the major player in town. Once you hook him, all of the other doctors in the area will follow his lead. Jamie’s skills with the ladies in reception help him to access the doctor’s office.
One of doctor Knight’s patients, Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) comes into the office and catches Jamie’s eye. She suffers from early onset Parkinson’s. They quickly begin a complicated, tumultuous relationship.
Jamie is doing respectably with his sales, but not as well as the company hopes. Then, a miracle drug called Viagra is developed which changes everything. Jamie manages to score the account and his career takes off. It’s a competitive field, though, and it’s bound to be a bumpy ride.
How will his career and relationship hold up with the new complications in his life? Add to everything above, his brother who moves in with him because of marital difficulties.
So from the plot, would you say that this film sounds like a romance, comedy or drama? Well, it’s kind of all three. That’s the biggest problem I can level at the story. Low-brow moments of humor punctuate the story and while a lot of them are rather funny, some of them seem to come from out of nowhere. You can bet that almost every scene with Jamie’s brother will feature some kind of wackiness. Maybe a little too much wackiness.
It’s really not even as complicated a story as you might imagine. Everything unfolds in a reasonably familiar sequence. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to get girl in the end.
There are enough moments scattered throughout that are genuinely loose and casually funny to keep this afloat. All credit there goes to Gyllenhaal for really following through.
This is a really strange film in the career of writer/director Edward Zwick. If you recall, he brought us ‘Glory,’ ‘The Last Samurai,’ ‘Blood Diamond’ and ‘Defiance.’ While some of his other entries may have hinted at his attempting to tackle a romance, he just goes for it here.
Hathaway’s performance is notable. Since her character is in the very early stages of the disease, her symptoms are usually subtle and don’t really define her character as much as you might imagine. Gad and Platt both act as the comic relief which is appreciated, but a little more depth to the characters could have helped. Platt especially seems to disappear for long stretches at a time.
Special features include: deleted scenes, the cast and crew talking about the film, a discussion with Jake Gyllenhaal, a discussion with Anne Hathaway about her character, and a look at the man the story was based on.
For all of the mixed reviews that this film received, it actually wasn’t bad. Predictable plot structure aside, there is some respectable acting and it tackles some rarely-explored subject matter.
You might laugh, you might cry, and you might enjoy the romantic angle. It doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.
Rated R 112 minutes 2011
When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!