Love & Other Drugs: A Romantic Comedy That Could Use A Little Blue Pill Of Its Own

24 11 2010

Jake Gyllenhaal teams up once again with Anne Hathaway (they appeared as husband and wife in 2005’s Brokeback Mountain) in Love and Other Drugs, a romantic comedy/drama directed by Edward Zwick. Here’s the breakdown:

Jamie (Gyllenhaal) flits from job to job and woman to woman. When his younger brother (Josh Gad) lands him a job at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Jamie becomes one of the first representatives to peddle the revolutionary “Little Blue Pill” –  Viagra. But when Jamie meets Maggie (Hathaway), a woman with the same cavalier attitude towards love and relationships as himself, he quickly realizes he’ll need more than a pill to make things work.

The Monkey: Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are beyond competent actors. Seeing them together onscreen is a treat and their chemistry is undeniable. Gyllenhaal doesn’t stray too far from what audiences may expect (although he’s a bit more cold and flippant than his usual good-boy persona), but Hathaway, on the other hand, pulled out all the stops. Maggie is quick-witted, scathing and more crass (and more naked) than any of Hathaway’s previous roles. It was a character that could have very quickly fallen into stereotype or one-dimensionality; however, Hathaway managed to make Maggie relatable and brought just enough vulnerability to the character to make her sympathetic.

The supporting cast was a huge asset for Love and Other Drugs. Oliver Platt, as Jamie’s Pfizer mentor, impressed with his ability to illicit humor and drama both. Josh Gad, as Jamie’s younger brother, was the main comic relief and delivered some truly laugh-out-loud moments.

The movie’s dramatic story line, once developed, was compelling. Without revealing too much of the plot, Love and Other Drugs takes a turn about two-thirds into the film, choosing to flesh out the realities of Jamie’s relationship with Maggie. This brought a very human element to the story and lent it an emotional weight that, without, would have left the movie to drift into the massive pool of forgettable romantic comedies.

The Weasel: Unfortunately, this tonal shift seemed abrupt and was more successful at muddying the plot than creating any clarity. At the end of the film, you’re left wondering what kind of movie, exactly, you just saw. Genre-bending can be done well, but in this case, the mix of comedy and drama was off-balance and did more harm than good. Love and Other Drugs has the necessary ingredients for a stellar drama and a raucous comedy, but together, both elements suffered.

Despite the film’s examination of a rather unconventional relationship, one not often seen onscreen, the execution of that relationship was as rote as could be. The last quarter of the movie played out like most romantic comedies – boy chases girl, girl cries, boy confesses love in ridiculously unrealistic speech, etc. It was disappointing to see a clever movie, with so much potential, feel the need to rely on tried and true methods of storytelling.

An enjoyable romp of a movie, made watchable by the extremely talented (and, in this case, oft naked) Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.

3 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Do you enjoy Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal onscreen together? Would you liked to have seen the comic side or the dramatic side of the movie developed more? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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4 responses

29 11 2010
scarletsp1der

I didn’t enjoy them onscreen together, honestly. Let me rephrase: I enjoyed their chemistry which added an intense feel of realism to their relationship, but I felt that the director tried to entrance us with too many sex scenes while the story dragged on at times. Great performances nonetheless (acting performances I mean.) 😉

29 11 2010
Dustin

HA! Agreed – in this case, sex was used unnecessarily, when, in my opinion, Gyllenhaal and Hathaway already had the onscreen relationship nailed…so to speak 😉

12 12 2010
CMrok93

It started off really fun, and exciting, with a quick pace, that had plenty of good jokes. Then it starts to delve into sappy rom-com cliches, that we all know and hate. However, this film does a good job anyway, with it’s two stars, and their undeniable chemistry.

13 12 2010
Dustin

Totally agree – thanks for the comment! 🙂

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