Inspired by former rep Jamie Reidy’s book ‘Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman’, the film takes an entertaining, breezily cynical look at the tricks of the pharmaceutical trade. But that’s the drugs stuff – what of love? The tone shifts after Jamie meets commitment-shy artist Maggie (Anne Hathaway). At first they banter and bed each other (a lot). Then Jamie starts to question his lifestyle; the L-word is mentioned. Oh, and she has early-onset Parkinson’s disease. And so it morphs from macho career comedy into sexy romcom-turned-romantic weepie.
It’s like two or three films stapled together – imagine channel-hopping between ‘Wall Street’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Sweet November’. Editing choices are perplexing: subplots and characters appear forgotten then hastily revisited out of context. ‘Love and Other Drugs’ is not an unpleasant experience – it has charming leads and a fitfully witty script. It also shows you more of Gyllenhaal and Hathaway than you’ve seen before, should that be of interest. But it has so much going on it fails to develop any of its strands satisfactorily. Ultimately, the unsettled tone undermines the romantic conclusion. Still, you’ve got to admire the ambition it shares with its cocky hero. Not many films would follow a Parkinson’s convention with a Viagra-fuelled sex party.