Feb 14, 2011

[Movies] Love & Other Drugs (2010)

Love & Drugs (2010)I've often declared that I'm not big on romance movies or romantic comedies for that matter. It's not that I have anything against them - it's just that I prioritize science fiction pieces and more compelling dramas as a matter of habit. It's a geek thing.

But of course I catch a few of them here or there when (1) the concept sounds compelling enough, (2) my partner highly recommends it or (3) I happen to like one of the stars. And for this movie, what's not to like about a movie starring a frequently naked Jake Gyllenhaal, yes? And you know when you have it bad for a particular celebrity when you have no trouble remembering how to spell his complicated last name when writing these entries. All together now! G-Y-L-L-E-N-H-A-A-L!

While my partner and I had caught this moving during its opening weekend some time ago, it felt a lot more fitting to actually to post this day on Valentine's Day. Not only is it a romance movie at its core, it's more fun for gay couples like my partner and I to celebrate an actor we both like on this day meant to celebrate all things love related and mushy.

Okay, that last point was a bit of a stretch, so sue me. Jake can be VERY distracting.

Love and Other Drugs is a 2010 romance comedy drama (but not quite a romantic comedy, if you get what I mean) based on the book, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy. It was directed by Edward Zwick, who also directed About Last Night....

Jake Gyllenhaal on hand for the opening of ProofImage via WikipediaThe movie is set in the 90's with Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) starting as a salesman at an electronics store. After getting fired for sleeping with his boss's girlfriend, he eventually gets a job as a medical representative for Pfizer based on a recommendation of his now-wealthy software developer brother Josh (Josh Gad). His new partner Bruce (Oliver Platt) sees big things for Jamie and expects that the two of them will finally get enough sales to warrant a transfer to the Chicago office.

Amidst his efforts to get Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) to switch to prescribing Zoloft instead of Prozac, he meets one of Knight's patients, Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). She's suffering from early onset Parkinson's Disease. Jamie pours all of his charm into trying to get a date with her and eventually she relents and the two soon end up in bed together. Repeatedly. Thus we get to follow along in their sexual relationship just as Pfizer hits a major breakthrough that will change the medical world forever - Viagra.

Given my work within different sales campaigns, I've had the pleasure of working with a number of people who've worked in the local drug industry as medical representatives. If there's one thing they have in common beyond just sheer confidence is a lot charm and charisma, which are key tools for any sales job. Thus it was nice to see Jake really try to take on the role of the classic salesman, and the net result was quite swoon-worthy. Come on, who wouldn't enjoy a doe-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal flirting with almost anyone on the big screen, often depicted with him staring straight at the camera! Ugh, I'm such a queer fan boy.

Major props to Anne Hathaway's performance in this movie for sure. If you've ever had a family member deal with a terminal disease, then you'll relate to how I felt when I watched her performance. She did an amazing job of capturing the kind of fragile person you become once you know that your condition is terminal and without hopes of a cure. And Parkinson's is pretty high on my list of evil conditions since it's a slow killer that just eats away at a person as he or she loses more and more motor control and other functions as it progresses. It's an experience that is inevitably a mix of sterling moments of philosophical brilliance tempered with dark days of emotional instability - no easy feat for any actress.

And when you put two together, they end up with some amazing on-screen chemistry in a more mature take on the classic love story. In this regard, the movie reminded me a lot of the recent hit, Up in the Air, which was another great movie. In this instance, the willingness to embrace a more sexually-focused relationship (with the accompanying nudity) was an interesting take on things and one that did not feel overly dirty or excessive. The sex actually felt key to the story given the nature of the characters. And of course it probably helped that not only was their chemistry great but both Jake and Anne are beautiful to look at in all their naked glory.

The movie suffered through in terms of overall cohesion and consistency of characterization. I never really felt a lot of Jamie's "damage" was explained or demonstrated on screen. If he was a man who clearly showed that he was not the type to express love, it wasn't overly clear during the dinner scene with his family. Nor was it clear that he was an underachiever who felt he would never meet his parent's expectations, and yet later on we are forcibly told all this via an out-of-the-blue psychological analysis by Maggie. In addition, the mix of the initial charming and sex-fueled courtship made for a very awkward transition to the Parkinson's is evil arc of the story. And in the end it had to wander back to the romance side and become a traditional love story again. So that can get confusing and this movie is not going to win awards for the writing involved.

But let's face it, a lot of you will still go watch this movie just to see Jake and / or Anne mostly naked, depending on your personal preferences. In this regard, you're definitely going to get your money's worth.

Did I like the movie - yes, I really did (and so did my partner). Would I get a copy of the movie on home video? Again the answer is yes, I'd love to watch this movie again. Did this movie change my life in any significant away? Apart from liking Jake Gyllenhaal even more (if that's even possible), I can't say that it did. So meh.

Love and Other Drugs is a fun, mature take on a romance movie with both comedic and dramatic elements that may either add or take away from the overall experience, depending on how you look at things. It gets 4 adorably charming moments of Jake involving the use of Viagra out of a possible 5. If the movie is no longer in theaters by the time you read this post, then feel free to pre-order this movie so you can get a copy right away!






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