I was so hyped up to see Love and Other Drugs, but left the theater confused on whether or not I liked it — I loved the actors and the pharmaceutical side of it but the love side of it felt really forced at moments and the character flaws were old and tired. Maggie (Anne Hathaway) and Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) are both in their late-20s and very alike in the way they don’t allow themselves to get very close to others. But they are that way for completely different reasons.
Eric Robinette, of Sir Critic’s Cinema, said, “Anne Hathaway is one of my favorite actresses. I like Jake Gyllenhaal too. I wanted their characters to end up together. They needed each other. They deserve each other. Both of them are major, albeit sympathetic neurotics. But the movie they’re stuck is an even bigger mess than both of them put together.”
Jamie is from a wealthy family that has never really encouraged him to believe in himself. He’s a salesman at Pfizer trying to peddle Zoloft but soon after Viagra hits the market Jamie becomes a leading salesman. He is the ultimate when it comes to charming, dramatically handsome players. He’s got a new woman in his bed pretty much daily. After he meets Maggie (in the most unlikely of ways) her own self-deprecating issues get in the way. (I mean that in the nicest way). She’s got Parkinson’s disease and would psyche herself out each time she started getting close to someone, as she feels guilty for needing someone to take care of her.
The couple abruptly starts a steamy sex relationship. They swear to each other they won’t become interested further but bam! that goes out the window. And all too quickly, their will power was for shit. Once Jamie expressed feelings of love Maggie freaks out and becomes, to me, an unlikeable character. I can understand why she feels the way she does — she’s afraid Jamie will begin to resent her as her illness becomes more aggressive. But her character was just too dramatic for me. She seemed to contradict herself a lot … calling out Jamie for his ego/self-esteem issues but yet dated a douche bag like Trey Hannigan, (Gabriel Macht) competing salesman.
Oliver Platt, as Jamie’s salesman mentor, and Hank Azaria, as the head doctor Jamie sells to, were both such memorable characters. Oliver was endearing because he was so (understandably) sullen and bitter about his job forcing him to live away from his family but was able to put that aside and help his friend succeed. Hank Azaria’s character didn’t have too much depth, he mainly just wanted to be a mini-Jamie player. There was one touching scene where the doctor talks about how much sadness his job weighs on him sometimes.
Director, producer and co-writer Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) overall did a great job. The film, for me, has a similar feeling to that of Valentine’s Day, He’s Just Not That Into You, and the upcoming No Strings Attached (can’t wait!) because of the high-caliber actors and hype.
Robinette felt a little different about Zwick’s style: “The film’s co-writer and director is Edward Zwick, a talented but frustrating filmmaker. At times he can make something as great as Glory. At other times he makes insufferable pap like Legends of the Fall Asleep. The major stumbling block of this film is a failure of tone. At times I admired Love and Other Drugs‘ zeal in tackling so many different issues, but like many of Zwick’s films, it falls short because it tries too hard.” Read his full review here.