Movie Review: Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in Love and Other Drugs
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Ed Zwick's Love and Other Drugs is an imbalanced Jerry Maguire knock-off that relies heavily on a serious medical condition to gain any emotional traction with the audience. However, this wasn't my immediate response to what begins as a rather harmless feature centered on a charming Pfizer pharmaceutical sales rep that falls in love with a woman suffering from Parkinson's. It's standard stuff played by good actors and from a director whose films I've enjoyed from Glory to The Last Samurai and, yes, even Blood Diamond. However, this change of pace for Zwick just didn't work.

Love and Other Drugs
Grade: C-

Love and Other Drugs"Love and Other Drugs" is a 20th Century Fox release, directed by Edward Zwick and is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material. The running time is .

The cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Gabriel Macht, Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt.

Loosely adapted from Jamie Reidy's "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman," a non-fiction look into the pharmaceutical business during the rise (no pun intended) of Viagra, the story centers on Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), a Pfizer rep, and his inevitable love interest Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). Yeah, "love interest" is the proper description for Maggie even though her character does have a bit of an arc in this film, but the overall themes center on Jamie's "evolution".

Maggie's life is wedged into Jamie's story to give him some sort of redeeming quality, something to strive for other than finding ways to stock his client's shelves with his latest product. Reidy's book was reviewed as telling readers things about the pharmaceutical industry they'd rather not know or prefer weren't happening, but much of that is tossed to the side as Zwick and his co-writers -- Charles Randolph (The Interpreter) and Marshall Herskovitz (Legends of the Fall) -- seem far more interested in carrying the Jerry Maguire football as far as they can take it.

Jamie is Jerry Maguire to a tee; just replace the idea of a sports agent pushing his athlete, to a sales rep pushing Viagra. Like Maguire, Jamie falls in love with a beautiful young lady and instead of being a single mother, she's suffering from a disease you wouldn't wish on anyone. And as hard as that comparison is to swallow, it's true.

Jamie and Maggie's paths follow a similar trajectory to those found in Cameron Crowe's film all the way to an ending where a single pause had me expecting the next two words to be "...complete me", which almost would have been preferable. It's always refreshing to know a film is self-aware and the filmmakers know how closely they are ripping off another story. It was a moment where the entire film could've redeemed itself, but instead it seemed intent on walking a path we've been down before.

But where the film really loses its way is in the forced inclusion of Jamie's dim-witted brother played by Josh Gad. Love and Other Drugs has more than enough to deal with from Jamie's on-going battle with a competing local rep (Gabriel Macht), his attempts to win over the territory's white whale (Hank Azaria), working hard to please his superior (Oliver Platt) all on top of his new relationship with Maggie. Adding his pathetic and lecherous man-child of a brother to the mix is like adding a second plastic bag to make sure this film really suffocates from overkill. Especially when it all leads to a late night pajama party that pretty much sealed this film's demise in my eyes.

In the lead role of Jamie, I actually enjoyed Jake Gyllenhaal for the film's first half. His charm had me sold, but as the film wore on so did my patience. When we first meet Jamie his life is without a trajectory and as the story moves forward his obsessive personality bounces from one thing to the next until he finally decides what he wants, but you can't tell if his decision is made out of want or if it's out of need. I blame none of this on Gyllenhaal, who is better here than I've seen him since Brokeback Mountain, but that doesn't change the fact the character just doesn't end up working.

Hathaway I've had my documented troubles with as an actress. I don't see in her what everyone else seems to see. Instead I see an actress whose ego has grown to the point she believes the hype. I see her performance and imagine her inner-monologue is saying, "Look at me, I'm an actress... I'm acting and you believe every word of it." She flounced around in Alice in Wonderland earlier this year and received all the recognition for Rachel Getting Married over the far superior Rosemarie DeWitt. Not even the fact she's naked for 50% of this film (an exaggeration), which is far more sexually explicit than your average run-of-the-mill romantic dramedy, or her late-in-the-game crocodile tears can save this performance.

Of course, Hathaway is dealing with a character that fills a narrative need rather than a character in and of itself. Like I said earlier, this film isn't about Maggie. Maggie serves the narrative as called for, just like every other female in the story whether they need to be romanced to get samples on the shelves or sexed up for an overly chauvinistic hot tub ménage à trois.

The only character I was impressed with throughout was Oliver Platt, but that seems to be the norm for Platt in my eyes. Even in the less-than-impressive Please Give earlier this year Platt gave a performance worthy of note, and yet he's continually dismissed as a character actor.

Love and Other Drugs is out of character for Zwick, whose films recently have been far more grandiose in scale including The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond and Defiance. I haven't seen his 1986 comedy-drama About Last Night..., but even that film didn't enjoy the greatest of acclaim. Perhaps this just isn't a genre up Zwick's alley. Either way, I wasn't impressed, though I would say the first half of the film was headed down a path to becoming an enjoyable feature before it fell off the map by the end.


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  • Shaikh

    I don't know about this movie but I most definitely believe that Hathaway was robbed of an Oscar for "Rachel Getting Married". The scene with her and her mother was just.. It left me speechless. One of the best performances of the decade in my opinion.

  • Asif

    Anne Hathaway is one of my favourite actresses and while I do agree that her performance in Alice was very contrived, I think your off the mark with this one. I thought she did a great job considering the material, handling the comedic part, especially the first half of the film, and the Parkinson's arc extremely well. I do agree that this movie did fall short of what it aimed for and what it should have been: a sexy romantic dramedy. It ended up being far too slick for its own good.

  • american thighs

    "I see her performance and imagine her inner-monologue is saying, 'Look at me, I'm an actress… I'm acting and you believe every word of it.'"

    LOL! My thoughts exactly!

    • Andrew

      Never really thought about it that much but Hathaway is overrated. Kinda in the same way Scarlett Johannsen is, neither really bother me as actresses but I do think of them as good by default.

      There aren't really that many amazing young actresses in Hollywood right now so those that are just good and not great tend to be given a bit more attention because of it.

      Hathaway and Johannsen are like only really great when compared to their contemporaries like Fox, Biel and Alba. To be fair though, being better than those girls at acting is like out running a toddler. Not much to brag about.

  • jp

    BRAD BREVET, that is why I don't take you or most film critics ( other type of critics or journalists ) seriously, because a review should never be personal. Who cares if you can't stand Anne Hathaway or you feel she has a big " ego " . So, it is okay for Sean Penn, David O. Russell, Russell Crowe , Oliver Stone to have big "egos" ? They all have a reputation for being quite full of themselves. But , it is okay because you personally like them or respect them. But, for me , ego or not, it is always about the talent. Sean Penn's attitude always annoys, but that will not stop me from enjoying or seeing his work.

    Anne Hathaway has immense talent, and I have never gotten the impression that she has a gigantic ego. Hathaway is remarkable in this movie. Whether you like it or not. Anne handled the comedy & drama incredibly well. Plus, this past weekend she killed it on SNL. Anne was probably the best SNL host since the first time Justin Timberlake hosted SNL. What she did on SNL , will raise her A-list profile even more. People are still taking about her brilliant turn on SNL. She wonderfully imitated Katie Holmes, Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Katie Middleton, and others. Anne made it all look very easy, but it was quite challenging. After seeing Anne on SNL, I have not been more impressed by a young A-list actress.

    P.S. I want to see Natalie Portman, MIchelle Williams, Rachel McAdams ( your favorite), or Carey Mulligan pull-off what Hathaway did on SNL. And, also , since you personally loathe Anne Hathaway please stop watching films because you come across as being very unprofessional and lacking credibility.

    • Feedback

      SNL has been shit for the past couple of years.

      And no one is talking about it.

      I didn't even know she hosted it that weekend.

      • Ismal Ishak

        wtf? rachel mcadams is my favorite as well!

        how is having preferences make us unprofessional and lacking credibility? everyone has a choice, so do you. so if you don't like brad's opinion, you have the choice to go read other websites.

        Armond White's maybe?

    • mfan

      Brad's favorite, now, is Emma Stone, I think. For a while, there, he was mentioning her name every chance he got.

      Maybe Anne Hathaway will work for Miley Cyrus, one day. That would be pretty cool!

      • m1

        BTW, The Last Song SUCKED.

      • mfan

        What's the matter? Are you sad that at a salary of $10 million plus 10% of the gross, Miley will make more on the movie L.O.L. than Anne Hathaway has made in her entire career? Are you mad that Miley will do so again on 'So Undercover' with the same salary and points? Sorry about that :(

      • mfan

        @m1, I see you don't want to address the issue of how Miley can get large profits out of what you and many professional critics say is a sucky movie, while Anne Hathaway, who is considered a star, cannot. Think about it.

    • analucia

      I actually prefere reviews to be personal, because they do come from a person, and it's much better if they say "I like/dislike this because..." that if they say "This IS better/worse", something that many critics and people in general do. It's all a matter of opinion; you justifie your opinion, and let people have their own.
      So I actually think his reviews are quite useful and one of the best there are; 'cause he's openly talking about what the thinks. One may agree or disagree, but only from a personal point of view, and that is how it should be.

  • jp

    Feedback, the entertainment websites are talking about Anne's sketches on SNL for days , and all giving her stellar reviews.

    Ismal Ishak, I respect Rachel McAdams. But, a critic should give fair reviews ( good or bad) - not personal attacks because the reviewer personally hates an entertainer. Every time Brad reviews an Anne Hathaway performance, he is personally attacking her. It is personal. He attacked Anne Hathaway with his review of "Morning Glory"- she is not starring in that film. So, what is the purpose of giving her a negative review when she has no connection with that film whatsoever ? Now, he is complaining about her ego - which has nothing to do with her very good performance. Trust me, the risks that Anne takes in this movie requires very little ego. We are all entitled to our opinion, but critics have to be objective- never be personal. Recently, I'm noticing more & more critics are attacking performers for personal reasons.

  • m1

    Twilight being ranked below POS's like The Last Airbender and Sex and the City 2 out of pathetic hatred, constant Anne Hathaway bashing, Unstoppable being compared to Transformers 2, that immensely overrated A+ for Inception...sorry Brad, I've lost my love for you :(.

    • mfan

      Sex And The City 2 was maybe the worst movie I have ever seen in my life, as I couldn't find anything redeeming about it at all. Not even one scene. Brad saw it with fans and admitted he was caught up in the fan exitement.

      BTW, critics on Rotten Tomatoes say Love & Other Drugs is a rotten movie, and 69% of top critics say it sucks. Of course, The Last Song has sold close to $26 million in DVD's, a number LAOD can only dream of.

      • Kevin Blumeyer

        Right, because commercial figures are always a good indicator of quality.

      • mfan

        We vote for quality with our dollars. So, yes, commercial success is the only measure of quality outside of an academic sensibility. The ancient greeks would say that many movies you think are excellent, suck, because their cultural expectations were different. What you are talking about is not quality, but fashion.

  • Steve J

    Cut Anne Hathaway some slack, she did do one of the best parts on "The Simpsons" in years as Princess Penelope.

  • Stephanie

    Personally, I did not like this film. I would give it a D..
    Gyllenhal as a sex symbol just doesn't work for me. I know they keep trying to market him as this, but it doesn't really seem to be catching on. ts just not believable. He is the sweet guy, the nice guy, or the romantic, but the confident sexy cad with charisma who charms everyone in sight...its just not as believable as say...Ryan Reynolds or a number of other actors.
    I also didn't like the constant product placement. It felt like one big long commercial. For Pfizer, in particular. I couldn't even watch the entire thing the whole way through. I don't like so obviously being bombarded with these types of placements. It insulted my intelligence. In fact, the more I think about it, the madder I get. So...I downgrade it to an F. I couldnt stand this movie.