Love and Other Drugs

Movies
3 out of 5 stars
Love and Other Drugs

 

Since this is a romantic comedy about a Viagra salesman, let's get the obvious joke out of the way: You've heard about the warning concerning unwanted effects lasting more than four hours? Perhaps they actually meant 113 minutes. Love and Other Drugs maintains such a pumped-up, exhaustingly wacky tone that even the introduction of a Parkinson's-struck girlfriend---yep, it's one of those stealth weepies---barely merits a breath. The whole movie feels like sport-fucking: athletic, desperate to please, disconnected. You always get eagerness out of Jake Gyllenhaal, here playing Jamie, a Pfizer rep on the rise, fully aware of his potency to women and to the men who want his pill. Even when the actor is in better material (i.e., Brokeback Mountain), he's tapping a kind of manic anxiety.

But the character of Maggie, coltish, wickedly snide and honest about her wasting disease, deserves a much smarter movie. (This one comes from a satiric Big Pharma memoir by Jamie Reidy.) Instead, Anne Hathaway digs in her heels at director Edward Zwick's snap of the reins and lets us notice what might have been: the curled lip, the strain of a constant, defensive sarcasm. Hathaway will get a lot of attention for this role (not merely because she bares her beautiful body in several bedroom scenes just this side of gratuitous), but we're not talking another Rachel Getting Married. This film, larded with supporting whiners like Jamie's in-the-field mentor (Platt), is too relentlessly upbeat to face the realities that medicine can't fix. And, as sometimes happens with an ambitious, young performer, Hathaway came to the set prepared to go further than sex. Her Maggie wants to make love and suffer.

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By: Joshua Rothkopf

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