Love & Other Drugs
Directed by Edward Zwick
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Josh Gad, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt
For all the breast-baring and butt-flashing, “Love & Other Drugs” is a surprisingly unsexy flick. Not to discount the sex appeal of Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, whose ample nude scenes will please fans, but their chemistry is virtually canceled out by an overwrought story.
Set in the 1990s, the movie opens with a montage of protagonist Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal) working his charm on female customers at an electronics store. After getting fired from this go-nowhere job, he lands a job hawking drugs for Pfizer, where he applies the same sweet-talking gusto that he applies to his dating life. Sales are mediocre — his goal is to convince doctors to ditch Prozac and prescribe a new antidepressant, Zoloft — but when Viagra hits the market, forget about it: Doctors come begging.
Gyllenhaal is charming, but he’s almost too nice for this role, which makes the whole pseudo-“Thank You For Smoking” narrative already quite clumsy by the time free-spirited Maggie (Hathaway) enters the picture.
Upfront and genuine, she wants to keep things strictly carnal. At first you think it’s because she’s such a lusty lady, but you soon find out that she has stage one Parkinson’s disease and stage five woe-is-me syndrome. So, as she unwittingly gets Jamie to live by his heart and not his libido, she insists that no one wants to be with an incurably sick person. Her character comes from a genuine place, but for every minute that Maggie moves you, there are 20 minutes that her overdone tragic story simply annoys you.
One minute “Love & Other Drugs” is jaunty, dropping montages left and right, then the next minute it’s somber and serious. The transitions are awkward, and the movie never hits its stride. The lighthearted scenes aren’t so bad, thanks in large part to Josh Gad, who plays Jamie’s brother. In the end, though, the ponderous plot dominates and the movie sputters to a dull, solemn stop.