Review: LOVE & OTHER DRUGS (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 14 January 2011

Review: LOVE & OTHER DRUGS (2010)

RATING: 2.5/5

After spending decade helming dramatic movies (2008's DEFIANCE, 2006's BLOOD DIAMOND and 1998's THE SIEGE), writer-director Edward Zwick's latest directing effort is certainly a refreshing change of pace. At the first glance, LOVE & OTHER DRUGS is a good old-fashioned romantic comedy that recalled the glory days of its genre in the 1990s, with wonderful onscreen chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. Unfortunately, the movie suffers from lack of primary focus from its overall content as Edward Zwick is trying too hard to juggle between a bittersweet romance dramedy and a thoughtful character study about corporate slice-of-life.

Based on the book, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy, the story takes place in 1996 where we first meet a smooth-talking womanizer Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) who got himself fired as an electronic store salesman for sleeping with his boss's girlfriend. He quickly get his life together and eventually lands himself a lucrative job working as a Pfizer pharmaceuticals rep where he requires to travel around selling Zoloft to healthcare professionals. Partnered with a middle-aged senior rep Bruce Winston (Oliver Platt), Jamie tries hard to convince a client named Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) for subscribing his product. Unfortunately Dr. Knight is a tough client to crack since he's currently subscribing Jamie's rival rep who sells Prozac. But Jamie never gives up and works his way up by starting to flirt with nurses and doctors so he can placed free samples of his products on their shelves. During his subsequent trial, he meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), a beautiful first-stage Parkinson's patient whom he quickly falls in love with. Like any other romantic comedies, Jamie and Maggie doesn't see eye-to-eye for each other until they eventually start sleeping together. At the beginning, their relationship is strictly sexual as Maggie has make it clear that she doesn't want any romantic commitments. But as their relationship goes on, Jamie begins to have genuine feeling for Maggie and true love is soon blossoms. However, as Jamie's career is taking off to a soaring new height after hitting big time selling the newly-released drug called Viagra, and Maggie's incurable disease begins to get worsen from time to time, both of them realize to doubt about their relationship.

As mentioned earlier, the two leads are the anchor of the movie. Not only that, it's rare nowadays (especially in mainstream standard) to see them engaged in lots of sex and spend most of the time getting naked. No doubt Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are certainly acted well together, and their chemistry feel like lived-in couples that is both wonderful and involving. Gyllenhaal's performance is lively and spontaneous, and Hathaway steals most of the limelight every screen she's in as a charismatic and emotionally sympathetic character.

It's a shame that Edward Zwick's would-be meaty direction is hugely uneven. There are times the movie waste too much time on settling one issue after another, and the subplot, particularly the one involving Jamie's slacker brother Josh (Josh Gad) is very irritating. His supporting character could have been axed altogether since his scene is really unnecessary. If that's not bad enough, the ending is rather mushy it's almost as if Edward Zwick is attempting to go Cameron Crowe-like filmmaking route (read: 1996's JERRY MAGUIRE).

Whatever early speculations that surrounding Edward Zwick's LOVE & OTHER DRUGS as one of the year's Oscar hopefuls (it's Edward Zwick's movie!) is simply far-fetched. Had Edward Zwick placed his picture a rather down-to-earth approach, the movie could have been a good and earnest result.

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