Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Top of the Queue Review" - Love and Other Drugs

The recent romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.  It is an enjoyable movie that shows the on again, off again relationship between a pharmaceutical salesman and a young woman who has stage 1 Parkinson's Disease.   It also co-stars Josh Gad who is currently staring in The Book of Mormon on Broadway and will most likely find himself with a Tony nomination in a couple of weeks -see my review of that show here.

The film is actually based on a non fiction book by Jamie Reidy called Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.  The plot follows Jaime Randall (Gyllenhall), a self centered, handsome and charming salesman for Pfizer, pushing Zoloft in the mid 1990's who meets Maggie Murdock (Hathaway) at one of the doctor's offices he is trying to get to switch from prescribing Prozac to Zoloft..  Murdock is a free spirited artist who works at a coffee shop and the two of them start a casual relationship just as Jaime starts to sell the new drug Viagra that Pfizer has developed.  He finds great success in marketing Viagra just as his relationship with Maggie becomes serious for him.   But Maggie seems only interested in a casual relationship so no one has to deal with the baggage she has that comes with suffering from Parkinson's disease.  

Jake and Anne were previously partnered in Brokeback Mountain, playing a young married couple in that film.   They had great chemistry in that movie and it is the sparks they are able to make together that propels this film along.

The interesting thing about this movie is that while Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are relatively young, the movie deals with more adult issues that you would usually find in a movie that starred older actors.  This isn't your typical teenage or even young 20's relationship movie, but is actually more in line of classic relationship dramas of the past like Love Story, movies that try to show both sides of romance, the comical and the serious.  While this film doesn't get as deep as Love Story does,  Love and Other Drugs pretty much succeeds at playing both sides, though in doing so it is a little disjointed at times.

Josh Gad and Jake Gyllenhaal
The film was directed by Edward Zwick who is known for directing more serious films like Glory and Blood Diamond.  The movie also features Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt as a Doctor and a fellow Pfizer salesman. Both are given a few nice moments in the film, mainly with Gyllenhaal.   George Segal and Jill Clayburgh are Jake's parents.   Both parts are pretty much cameos and this is, I believe, Clayburgh's final film role.  She passed away about three weeks before the film was released last November.

While I can't say I was every truly emotionally attached to either of the two lead characters, I did find the combination of the two genres somewhat refreshing - so would recommend it.   But, I actually had no idea it was going to be somewhat serious, so if you go in knowing that then you'll probably enjoy it even more than I did.

There is a decent amount of nudity in the movie - mainly on Anne's part, but Jake gets his share as well, so take that as either another reason to watch or to not watch, depending on how you feel about nudity in film.

One last comment - Jake and Anne have such good chemistry together that it makes you wonder what they would have been like as this year's Oscar hosts- as she and her co-host James Franco seemed to have no connection or chemistry at all.

Also, Anne Hathaway grew up in Millburn, New Jersey which is where the Paper Mill Playhouse is located.  She appeared in a couple of shows that we saw at the Paper Mill, the musical Gigi and the non-musical Jane Eyre -appearing in the ensemble in both.  With her stage background, hopefully she'll appear on Broadway in a musical soon.
Amazon link for Love & Other Drugs [Blu-ray]

Amazon link for the dvd of Love & Other Drugs

Trailer for the movie -

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