365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

2Apr/110

Love and Other Drugs (2010)

The trailer for 2010's Love and Other Drugs make it out to seem like the movie is a romantic comedy. In actuality, that could not be further from the truth. While there is quite a bit of romance and lots and lots of humor, the movie is far deeper and much more dramatic than I could have imagined. No purely romantic comedy can take you through the range of emotions that Love and Other Drugs will take you through. This movie slipped under the radar, earning just $32 million at the box office. It was referred to more as "that movie that has Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Brothers) and Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables, Interstellar) naked the whole time" more than it was anything else. I saw the movie for two reasons. The first was that I was intrigued by the buzz that surrounded this movie around its release date. The other was that I've become a big fan of Anne Hathaway. There are not many actors/actresses out there that when you see them on the screen, you see them as the character and not the actor/actress trying to portray that character. The first actor I think of when trying to describe this idea to someone is Daniel Day-Lewis. Others that come to mind include Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, and Christina Ricci. And while Anne Hathaway is no Daniel Day-Lewis, or Meryl Streep, she i slowly but surely putting herself on that path.

Set in and around the Cleveland area in the mid 1990's, Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, a pharmaceutical salesman for Pfizer. The first ten minutes of the portray Jamie as a smooth talking salesman for an electronics store. There he uses his wit, his charm, and his good looks to persuade women of all ages to purchase anything from phones to televisions to stereos. His playboy reputation is clearly established within the first few moments of the movie. Fast forward a little bit and we find Jamie as a pharmaceutical representative, trying to make a name for himself. His on the job training is provided by his partner Bruce (Oliver Platt - Flatliners, The Three Musketeers).  Bruce sees Jaime's natural charisma is his ticket to Chicago, the headquarters for Pfizer, so he can be closer to his wife and kids.

Jamie is confident in his abilities, but finds getting close to the doctors who can prescribe his medication more difficult he imagined. He woes the receptionists with flowers. He beds the doctor's personal assistants. He dumps the samples  of Prozac and replaces them with Pfizer's Zoloft. He's got monthly sales quotas that he needs to meet and he's determined to make those quotas by whatever means necessary. He pays one doctor named Stan Knight (Hank Azaria -  The Birdcage, The Simpsons Movie) $1000 if  he well let Jamie shadow him for a day.

It is here that Jamie meets Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), one of  his patients, who has Stage 1 Parkinson's Disease. She tells Dr. Knight some far-fetched story of how here apartment was broken into and rifles off a list off all of the prescriptions that he needs him to write referrals for. Maggie is quirky, energetic, somewhat neurotic, and seems so full of life despite her disease. Jamie is instantly drawn to her. And because he is sleeping with Dr. Knight's personal assistant, he is able to get Maggie's contact information through her.

Soon they are meeting for coffee and within minutes are in bed with each other. Their relationship is initially based purely on no strings attached, animalistic lust. Director Edward Zwick does a fantastic job of showing just how strong each of the character's sexual drive is. It could have been easy to establish in a couple of scenes how much they want each other and then moved on with other parts of the story. But Zwick dives deeper into each scene and shows their lovemaking in a variety of locations, both public and private. Their is absolutely no second guessing their physical attraction to one another.

Now, without seeing the movie, we can all pretty much tell what will happen next. Despite their no strings attached approach, one of them develops stronger feelings and, thus, the conflict is created. In this case it is playboy Jamie who realizes that being with Maggie brings out his best self. Without giving away any more of the story, when Jamie makes his feelings known the dynamics between he and Maggie change dramatically. This allows us to truly see the acting range of both actors. Hathaway proves she is one of the finest actresses of her generation while Gyllenhaal gives the finest performance of his career. I have never really seen Gyllenhaal has more than a run of the mill actors, but I am slowly starting to change my opinion about him. After his performance, I cannot imagine any other actor nailing this role as well as he did.

The other interesting aspect of this story was that it was during this time that Pfizer introduced Viagra to the general public. Everybody wants to get their hands on it. Jamie suddenly becomes a hot commodity and his sales soar through the roof.  He's well on his way to climbing up the corporate ladder and landing himself in Chicago. Suddenly those who wanted nothing to do with Jamie are on him like bees on honey. Jamie, who naturally loves being the center of attention, eats it all up.

I also want to emphasize what a great job Zwick did of portraying Parkinson's Disease. I believe this is the first mainstream movie that has really brought this disease to the forefront. It is certainly the first one that I have seen. Most of us know about the disease through what we see and read about Michael J. Fox or Muhammad Ali. I read Fox's autobiography Lucky Man so I feel like I have a working understanding of the disease. Hathaway seems to show perfectly what Fox write about Stage 1 of Parkinson's. We also get to meet people who are in different stages of the disease. More importantly we are able to see how seeing this people affect Jamie, but, more importantly Maggie.

Plot 10/10
Character Development 10/10
Character Chemistry 10/10
Acting 10/10
Screenplay 7.5/10
Directing 9.5/10
Cinematography 8.5/10
Sound 8/10
Hook and Reel 9.5/10
Universal Relevance 9.5/10
92.5%

I really, really enjoyed the story. I liked the main characters. I liked all of the side characters. I thought the characters were brilliantly developed and portrayed. I really liked how we were able to see each of the character's rawest emotions, but the other characters in the movie weren't always able to see those emotions. I recommend this movie for anybody over seventeen years of age who is interested in riding the emotional roller coaster that Love and Other Drugs is.

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