Page 1 of 3
Fox / 112 Minutes / 2010 / Rated R / Street Date: March 1, 2011
It becomes apparent early on in Love and Other Drugs that director Edward Zwick and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are trying to do something 'different' with their film. From trailers and posters of the picture, it looks like a pleasantly standard-grade rom-com, with an oft-naked Jakey frolicking around with the gorgeous Hathaway through slippery (but not insurmountable) situations as they ping-pong insults toward each other on the road to true love (aww....).
But Love and Other Drugs kicks into some serious territory early on, and while this lends the film a certain gravity that separates it from lighter rom-com fare (even the relatively dour Life As We Know It never gets as bleak as Other Drugs), it does a pretty good job of killing the party. I don't mean to make light of the fact that we learn early on in the film that Anne Hathaway's character deals with early-onset Parkinson's disease, but the way the film progresses from that development just doesn't really gel on either a tragic-romance level or as a youthful love-romp.
In the film, Jake plays Jamie, a med school dropout who has a knack for selling prescription drugs. After he meets Maggie (Hathaway), though, this kicks into high gear: She tells him about a little drug called Viagra that just might be a big seller (the film takes place in the 1990s). And if Jake could sell ketchup popsicles to women wearing white gloves before, his savvy as a boner-pill salesman is major-league-quality. Then on the other side of this is Jamie's fledgling love affair with Maggie, one that is great in terms of the sex part, but with Maggie's condition and the complications that come with it, neither of them are quite sure how to go about things.
It's intriguing to see Ed Zwick behind a romantic drama - he really hasn't attempted one since About Last Night... - but Love and Other Drugs ends up being a movie with some serious identity issues. The fact that it addresses early onset Parkinson's the way it does is laudable, but the film doesn't follow this thread successfully. The movie plays like a studio-recut version of itself, a rom-com that goes out of its way to fit into a big-studio cookie-cutter genre paradigm rather than trying something new. Zwick and company seem interested - and capable - of delivering that, but you gotta be willing to go all the way with that intent: If your end result simply ends up looking and sounding like a shell of just another romance, it sure seems like a missed opportunity.