Love Story & Other Stuff
Love & Other Drugs initially reminded me of Up in the Air, which came out the year before. Both are romances dealing mainly with the redemption of a man whose relationships with women may be physical but strictly non-committal. Both also heavily involve the atmosphere of each protagonist's career -- in Love & Other Drugs, Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) works as a pharmaceutical salesman for Pfizer, trying to hawk Zoloft to prominent doctors who are otherwise prescribing Prozac. A lot of the movie's draw comes from this depiction of that particular career; it's a bit eye-opening to see drugs being aggressively pitched to doctors in this way, and it has something to say about the operations of the corporations behind the manufacturing of such drugs.
Similarly, Up in the Air used its own backdrop of people losing their jobs to frame its love story -- the development of an adult relationship -- and the whole thing managed to achieve a mature, regretful feel. Here, though, Love & Other Drugs suffers by comparison -- its background is interesting, but its central love story less so. Jamie falls for artist Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), who suffers from an early onset of Parkinson's disease. Her condition makes her defensive and intentionally distant from any potential relationships; likewise, Jamie, the seasoned ladies' man, also doesn't want a relationship. They spend their first interactions predicting what the other is thinking (we suppose they've seen it all; unfortunately, this makes their dialogue borderline obnoxious) while openly acknowledging their physical attractions to each other. Naturally, they eventually end up in a relationship.
Ultimately, Love & Other Drugs is a love story not unlike Sweet November, where the complications of the woman's condition makes her believe the best course of action would be to set her lover free, so he wouldn't have to deal with it; and, of course, he responds by saying he'd do anything for her, right? You can guess the ups and downs of this story before they occur, and it turns out to be a shame. The movie is set up with an interesting background (that gets even more interesting when Pfizer's wonder drug Viagra becomes ready for prime time) that ultimately doesn't contribute much to what we take away from it. Highlighting Parkinson's disease in particular is noble, but for the purposes of motivating the characters, that could've been any debilitating condition.
Frankly, there were several potential avenues to develop here, but the film settles for something conventional and sentimental with its love story. It's always disappointing to encounter triteness, but perhaps more so when you detect potential in the surrounding material. Ah well, Love & Other Drugs means never having to say you're sorry, right?
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "R" for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material.)
Review also posted at ww.windowtothemovies.com.