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Love and Other Drugs
Genre Drama

Anne Hathaway is a lady. One of those well-to-do women, who lifts her pinkie when she drinks tea and waves like the Queen. She’s fit for royalty, blessed with great beauty, intelligence and a coy smile. So it was quite something when she just whipped out a boob in Love and Other Drugs. Unveiling a spider bite in the doctor’s rooms, sure – it’s better than a nubbin, but is revealing a pockmarked fairy cushion of artistic merit or just gratuitous “boobage”? Most guys and some girls won’t complain. It’s pretty funny when someone whips out just about any body part in an inappropriate setting, as long as it’s still attached, and who better to exhibit than that formerly prim and proper “lady”, Anne Hathaway.

Another boob making an appearance in Love and Other Drugs is Jake Gyllenhaal. He and his sister, Maggie, have been riding on their Donnie Darko cult notoriety for what seems like decades, maturing over a tricky mountain pass through Brokeback Mountain and over a couple of stiff drinks in Crazy Heart. Anti-Western movie roles may have given them some dramatic weight, but that hasn’t changed the fact that they both play broody, somewhat charming characters. Jamie Randall is Jake’s latest deadbeat pretty boy, whose life has been a bad joke. Sponging off his parents, losing one job after another and sleeping with just about any girl he makes eye contact with may be a summation of what one did at university, but to others – it’s an accident waiting to happen.

Jamie is a hedonist, which while “nice” tends to get in the way of studies and meaningful relationships. The school of hard knocks can give you some experiential knowledge, but working in a hi-fi store doesn’t often open up the right doors for a spoiled rich kid. Now forced to get a real job, Jamie is confronted with the possibility that he may become a bum (American sense of the word)… unless he makes a pact with the devil, or in this case pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. Yes, the one that “discovered” the magical blue pill that started a sexual revolution for those that were part of the ’60s sexual revolution. Trust the baby boomers to bring things back into fashion.

On his journey as a pharmaceutical sales rep, Jamie meets the finicky, Maggie, posing as an intern at a prospective client’s practice. No, not his sister, Spider-bait… played by Anne Hathaway. The gorgeous lily white girl is a walking pharmacy… making her needy, high on pills and suffering from low self-esteem, an obvious choice for the Gyllenhaal Express. Jamie, a good-looking, charming stud on the up-and-up asks her out after an altercation and what do you know – they start a passionate love affair, but will Maggie (still not his sister) allow Jamie into her circle of trust?

Love and Other Drugs is one of those movies that brims with potential, yet disappoints like shiny, red floury apple. What were the writers thinking? What happened to the Edward Zwick of  The Siege, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond and Legends of the Fall? The film starts like Thank You For Smoking with what looks to be a whimsical satire and subversive attack on the state of the pharmaceutical industry in America. I guess, they thought they’d leave that movie to Michael Moore… instead, opting for a 112 minute advert for Pfizer and featured product placement, the Love…Drug known as Viagra. Love and Other Drugs enters the fray without a scathing commentary on big drug corporations. Where’s the inside joke and… nothing. Then, it quickly backtracks into a romantic comedy romp about young reckless love like a scene from Varsity Blues or Feast of Love. As if the film hadn’t made enough tonal shifts and genre jumps, it enters into Nicholas Sparks terrain before tagging the proverbial “happily ever after” ending instead of the customary big red bow.

This is confusing… are we meant to be happy, sad or repulsed as an audience? The main protagonist has the moral compass of a jack rabbit on Viagra, his indistinct multi-million dollar brother is a poor excuse for a leech with a tinfoil bow tie and his girlfriend-in-waiting is as elemental as a nymphomaniac in Springtime. The comedy doesn’t touch sides apart from one or two guilty laughs, the chemistry is skin deep and the story ranges from “romcom” cliches to the sappy, bottom-of-the-barrel sentiment of a mediocre made-for-TV tearjerkers… shame.

Amazingly, Love and Other Drugs manages to keep your attention. It’s no small miracle, armed with a cast including: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Judy Greer and Gabriel Macht. The co-lead couple deliver charming performances, which just about save the film despite all its flaws. However, it’s just not enough as the soft core porn lessens the depth of emotion and a terrific cast are wasted on pithy sidekick roles. Love and Other Drugs is a mixed bag of a film, which must have gone through several rewrites during shooting. Tacking on some heartrending drama on the back of a superficial romance, posing as a satire is like going to see this film after reading this review… awkward, disappointing and ultimately dissatisfying. If Anne Hathaway’s pale naked body is the only thing you’ll remember about this movie, it’d be best if you just waited for Love and Other Drugs to hit rental…

The bottom line: Disappointing.


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