Shit, they screwed up my prescription again — I said I didn’t want the generic brand!
He’s a cocky, charming pharmaceuticals rep. She’s a feisty, non-committal patient at the doctor’s surgery he pimps his anti-depressants to. They have sex. Then sex again. And then, if only to keep Trojan in business, sex again. She, being sick, doesn’t want any more than that – sex. He, convinced he’s falling in love with his bed buddy, goes out of his way to convince her that she does need him.
You can guess the rest – well, maybe not the part about Viagra, the Slobbish brother who likes porn, or the reason both Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway felt the need to do the movie. Connect the dots you will though, young Padawan.
And you know, despite the woeful marketing campaign for it, there was a moment there (granted, it was a while ago – before word started to leak like dirty sewerage from a street drain) that ‘’I thought Love and Other Drugs’’ mightn’t leave the icky aftertaste it does. It was when they started trumping Hathaway – Gyllenhaal too, but Hathaway more so – a potential Oscar Nominee. Then…. that went away. In its place? ‘Hathaway shows her boobies in this new film! – a lot!’
Needless to say, I was just as interested in seeing the film now that it was ‘Anne Hathaway FHM pull-out calendar’ and not ‘Anne Hathaway, Sure thing Oscar Winner’ but one thing was clear now, the Oscar talk was drummed up by the Fox publicity department in an effort to detract attention from the films only real saving grace – nudity. Oh, and Spin Doctors. But mainly nudity.
Not that “Love and Other Drugs” is “Return to Two Moon Junction” (God bless Melinda Clarke’s Cotton Socks – actually, I don’t think she wore any socks, let alone knickers, in that film), it’s just that it’s, well, a drag. Yes, even with the soft porn sex scenes.
I expect better from Ed Zwick. He gave us one of the best romantic dramedy’s of the ’80s, ‘’About Last Night’’, starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore (another film that featured, rather curiously, some very rancid sex scenes – can we see your browser history please sir?); the amazing, amazing, amazing ‘’Glory’’ – which did go on to strike a chord with Oscar voters (thankfully, he cut the Matthew Broderick-on-Morgan Freeman sex scene); and more recently, the flawed but admirable ‘’Legends of the Fall’’ – in which Brad Pitt diddled Julia Ormond. What’s funny is, looking back, all those films have something in common with Zwick’s latest – the fickle relationship movie from ‘86, with its tonal shift and bed bumping, and especially the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink structure of ‘’Legends of the Fall’’.
Clearly, Zwick has a problem staying on the one path. He likes to get off… And then off and off again, ostensibly changing his mind about what kind of movie he wants to make every half hour. In this case, ‘’Love and Other Drugs’’ is a screwball romantic comedy by way of a satire on the pharmaceutical industry with the tragic tissue-reaching second-half that plays not even half as impactful, let alone feels deserved, as it should have. There are large chunks of the film that play tacked on. Betcha they were.
Pity, because Hathaway and Gyllenhaal are great – they really are. Some of that early PR/buzz was on the money, because Hathaway gives what’s undoubtedly the performance of her career here. But sadly, the film let’s her down. She wants to be in ‘’Terms of Endearment’’ but she gets “Dying Young” instead. Gyllenhaal isn’t as powerful, but he’s fun here — he’d be great in a Tomcats-style comedy. Yeah, something like “Jarhead” – without the sand.
An older critic asked me what I thought of the movie on my way out of the theater and I flat told him: ‘’it did nothing for me’’. He defended it, saying he really enjoyed it because it was “just so different”. If different means “it’s misdirected and messy” then he’s right, it is that, but just in case, I think I’m going to pull my ‘’Here on Earth’’, ‘’Mad Love’’ and ‘’Dying Young’’ DVDs out of storage and drop them off on his doorstep just to prove how ‘original’ ‘’Love and Other Drugs’’ isn’t.