Love And Other Drugs

Love And Other Drugs


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Love And Other Drugs is an odd cocktail of a film, combining the upper of a surprisingly sexy romance with the impressively handled downer of Parkinson's disease, while adding an annoying amount of cliche to the mix. That Edward Zwick's film mostly gets away with this heady combination is largely due to the performances of Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, who bring significant amounts of chemistry and energy to their central roles.

Gyllenhaal is Jamie Randall - a drugs salesman who talks a mile a minute and knows how to turn on the charm with medical secretaries in order to get what he wants. He's all about the transaction, though, breezing his way to bed with little thought of real romance. Sadly, the word breezy is not one that could be applied to the opening 30 minutes of the film, with Zwick needlessly over-emphasising Jamie's set-up. The guy's an archetypal love 'em and leave 'em so long as he gets the cash sort, so why labour the point? Of course, this being, at least in part, a romcom journey, all that is about to change and after he meets Parkinson's sufferer Maggie Murdock (Hathaway). She matches him all the way in terms of non-commitment, being interested in sex without strings until, inevitably, their heads begin to tip over their heels.

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Interesting ideas lurk, tantalisingly, underneath the romcom formula and yet every brave move Zwick and his co-writers make is countered by something weak and formulaic, as if in apology. Parkinson's disease, for example, is treated with reality and respect. Real Parkinson's sufferers feature front and centre and there is a genuine sense of the debilitation of the disease, which ultimately robs people of all their physical and mental faculties.

Yet, like so many Hollywood films of late, Love And Other Drugs suffers from a Hangover hangover, evidenced by the decision to include the broad and deeply unfunny Josh (Josh Gad) - Jamie's brother, who we are supposed to believe would feel quite at home masturbating to a video one of his brother's sex sessions. Equally, there are hints of ridicule regarding the pharmaceutical industry, but given that Pfizer have allowed their brand name and that of Viagra to be used, it's clear from the outset that any satire is likely to be of the vicious suck rather than biting variety.

It's a shame that the filmmakers and Fox didn't have a little more faith. Faith that we would understand and respond to the emotional undercurrents without being beaten over the head with unecessarily manipulative music cues, confidence that we could enjoy the rat-a-tat humour of the central couple's sparring without needing a 'chorus' of gross-out gags from Josh and enough trust in their central premise not to need to over-burden it with distracting subsidiary characters that unecessarily prolong the runtime. For all its failings, Love And Other Drugs still has raunch and charm enough to boost it above other romcoms, but its formula just isn't quite right.

Reviewed on: 04 Jan 2011
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Love And Other Drugs packshot
Romance blossoms between a commitment-phobic drug salesman and a feisty Parkinson's sufferer.
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Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Jamie Reidy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht, Judy Greer, George Segal, Jill Clayburgh, Kate Jennings Grant, Katheryn Winnick, Kimberly Scott, Peter Friedman, Nikki Deloach, Natalie Gold

Year: 2010

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: US


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