The only new movie our theater got this week was Faith, Fraud, and Minimum Wage, and I know I should have been a loyal Canadian and gone to see it, I didn’t. So let’s just move on. Instead, I took the opportunity to go on cheap night (which I love, but can never go to) and catch up on a movie that got bypassed before: Love and Other Drugs, which came out last weekend. You’ve probably seen the trailers and heard the buzz wondered what the big deal over Anne Hathaway was. After all, a movie that goes like this:
A cocky drug rep finds love with his client’s patient while riding the wave of success generated by the release of Viagra.
… is just another romantic comedy, right? And those don’t generate Oscar buzz. If they ever did, it would probably be taken as a sign of the approaching apocalypse. So I figured there must be something they weren’t telling me. Something they were keeping out of the trailers. So I went to see it, and you know what? There was. But it’s still a romantic comedy.
The thing that they were leaving out of the trailers, the thing that explains why some movie critics are guessing Anne Hathaway might get an Oscar nomination, is revealed within ten seconds of her character, Maggie Murdock, appearing onscreen. Therefore, I don’t consider it a spoiler. But you might, since it was left out of the trailers, so I’ll let you decide for yourself. If you don’t want to know, skip to the next paragraph. If you do, keep reading. Ready? Whiners, are you gone? Maggie has Parkinson’s disease. That’s the big secret. It’s not very advanced, but since Anne Hathaway has to act like she has trembly hands sometimes, and she does it rather well, some people have put her in for an Oscar.
This also explains the lame “I need you more!” line from the trailer.
She needs him to help her open jars and stuff.
So that explains that. Now on to the plot. The story is based on a book by Jamie Reidy, real-life former Viagra salesman, called Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, but the three credited screenwriters: Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz, pretty much buried the inherent hilarity and hypocrisy of drug reppery underneath a romantic plot that could have been lifted from that “inspirational” line of Harlequin romance novels where one of them has a disability. And they added in an ugly, gross, annoying comic-relief type brother character (Josh Gad). This is why although Anne Hathaway has come off well in the reviews, the movie itself hasn’t.
I’m hairy and annoying. Isn’t that FUNNY?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie, it’s just not a great movie either. The first part, which focuses on Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) signing up as a drug rep and partnering with Bruce Winston (Oliver Platt) to try and peddle more drugs in the Ohio River Valley than their arch-nemisis from Eli Lilly, Trey Hannigan (Gabriel Macht), could (and perhaps should) have been a whole comedy in and of itself.
We sold some! Yes! We’re not getting fired today!
Jamie desperately trying to peddle Zoloft to doctors like Stan Knight (Hank Azaria) is hilarious. I know something of drug reps from my dad, who is a doctor, and all the free trips, drug samples, dinners, and blatant flattery Jamie and Bruce dish out in the name of generating sales seems pretty bang on. So bang on, in fact, that I’m surprised that Pfizer allowed their name and logo to appear in the movie.
And oh look, complimentary flowers! Shall I wash your car? Paint your house?
The only problem is that Viagra doesn’t come onto the scene until about halfway through the movie, and by then the drug rep stuff has taken a back seat to his budding romance with Maggie, whom he meets in the doctor’s office when he’s tagging along with Stan trying to sell him Zoloft.
Hello, I’m not a drug rep at all, please take off your shirt.
Take off her shirt she does, and although she hates him initially, she jumps into bed with him early on and pretty much stays there until: surprise! They’re in love. One thing that makes Love and Other Drugs different from other romantic comedies is the nudity. Jamie and Maggie spend half the movie in bed, and not chastely wearing bras and covering up with sheets like normal rom com characters. So you should only really bring your hubby/boyfriend to this movie if you’re okay with him ogling Anne Hathaway’s boobs.
Whoops, I forgot to put my clothes on. Oh well. Shall we have sex again?
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are undeniably cute together, but given Maggie’s little problem, Love and Other Drugs tends to stray too far into Sweet November and Extraordinary Measures territory as Jamie tries to figure out what to do about everything.
I am sad. This is my sad face.
Jamie’s a self-assured dick and Maggie’s a flaky free spirit, but underneath they’re both damaged (of course) and they have many penetrating insights into each others’ character (in addition to the other penetrating insights, if you catch my drift). Director Edward Zwick spends so much time on their relationship that we don’t even find out what some of the secondary characters’ names are until near the end of the movie, which makes Love and Other Drugs seem even more like a romance novel brought to life. But at least they’re cute together.
Here they are cheering in bed. You might think they’re watching sports
but actually it’s the news talking about Viagra’s success
So is Love and Other Drugs worth watching? Sure, if you’re more interested in seeing a love story than in watching a movie about what it’s like to be a drug rep for Viagra. It’s not Oscar worthy in any respect, in my opinion, but it is good for two hours of entertainment. You’ll laugh a few times, say “awwww” a few times, and you might even leave the theater feeling a little bit uplifted. But just a little.