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Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Love and Other Drugs”

(20th Century Fox.  1 hour, 53 minutes.  Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material.  Directed by Edward Zwick.)  Jake Gyllenhaal (Jamie Randall), Anne Hathaway (Maggie Murdock), Oliver Platt (Bruce Winston), Hank Azaria (Dr. Stan Knight).  Music by James Newton Howard.

Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal), a womanizing pharmaceutical salesman in the late 90’s, hits it big with the debut of Viagra.  However, his plans change when he falls for Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), a sharp-tongued artist/waitress who turns his world upside-down.  A unique but somewhat scattered romantic comedy.

Romantic-comedies, as I’ve said before, suffer from the balancing act they must perform.  However, Love adds a third element of medical/political commentary that unbalances the mix.  It hits a lot of your typical romantic-comedy beats, but does so while acknowledging one thing that so many others gloss over: sex.  It’s one of the main motivations in human pairing, and it’s quite refreshing to see a movie, especially a rom-com, pay so much deference to it.  Hathaway and Gyllenhaal’s performances mesh well, though their characters leave something to be desired: Gyllenhaal’s Jamie is too nice to be the inconsiderate bad-boy he describes himself as, and Hathaway’s Maggie rides the “martyr” train much longer than necessary.  On the other hand, the medical/political side of the movie sets up a compelling and scarily accurate depiction of modern American healthcare, but is quickly forgotten once the main relationship unfolds.  An entire movie from this angle would be cool.  Director Zwick finds himself outside of his usual territory (he’s better known for much bloodier fare like Defiance, Glory and Blood Diamond), but as such brings an interesting take on a stale genre.  This rom-com has a lot on its mind, and it’s worth a shot.