(No longer in theaters)
20th Century Fox
Nov 24, 2010
Check out Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway on the cover of Entertainment Weekly looking nekkid nekkid nekkid—a great come-on for Love & Other Drugs, and not even false advertising. In the movie he is nekkid, and she is even nekkider, and they are very beautiful together in the nekkidness. The movie’s first half is a state-of-the-art Zeitgeist sex comedy, even if it’s set in 1996. It was morning in our brave new psychopharmacological world, and Big Pharma salesdude Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal) is at its hub, sweet-talking (and more or less bribing) physicians (and receptionists) into prescribing his SSRI (Zoloft) over an even slicker rival company’s (Prozac). He’s such a supple, smooth-faced, blue-eyed cutie that his transparently fake ingenuousness is more winning than other people’s genuine ingenuousness. And when word percolates up that his company has found the Holy Grail, the “fuck drug,” and called it “Viagra,” he really has the world by its gonads. Even better, he’s seeing gorgeous artist Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), with her dark eyes and swarm of dark ringlets and insatiable compulsion to get nekkid with him and then kick him out: She’ll be disappointed, she says, if it turns out he’s not a “shithead” and wants to commit.
This is gratifyingly slick and manic and mood-elevating. But Maggie has early-onset Parkinson’s (incurable, even by Big Pharma), and pretty soon you get the feeling she’s so commitment-averse because she’s afraid to show her deep-down, little-girl neediness. You also get the feeling that director Edward Zwick—who started with Thirtysomething and moved on to Oscar-bait war movies—has rediscovered his inner Jason Reitman. Like the charismatically irresponsible heroes of Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air, Jamie must develop a social conscience and learn to love.
Love & Other Drugs is crazily uneven, jumping back and forth between jerk-off jokes and Parkinson’s sufferers sharing their stories of hope. It’s the sort of movie in which half the audience will be drying their eyes and the other half rolling them. In the first hour, Hathaway is impressive. She seems finally to have grown into those enormous features; her face no longer looks like a Disney Channel Halloween mask. But Zwick should have dialed her down a notch. By the end she’s a painful reminder of Liza Minnelli, another overeager, oversize-featured actress who tried to do too much with her too-muchness and left us crying for less.