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Love and Other Drugs - Movie Review by A.D.Harris

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'Love and Other Drugs' is a comedy-drama with a bit of a kick. The trailer deceptively portrays the movie as a 'rom-com' starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, where guy meets girl, guy focuses on job, girl is a distraction, romantic comedy formula follow.
This movie does have that element to it, but it also is very much more a character study. Gyllenhaal & Hathaway are given a lot of 'big acting' to do in this movie, the storyline veering very much into an in-depth look at these two people's lives and how various events affect them.

Hathaway's character, Maggie has Parkinson's disease, something totally cut from any promotional material, and it has a huge part to play in the movie, and I felt that it was disappointing the studio felt the need to hide such an emotionally important element. It is perhaps more disappointing they feel such a storyline would stop people from watching it. Maggie is totally understood as a character by her life with this disease, feeling it is unfair to be with a man when her body is beginning to fail. Hathaway is really good, acting her way through tough material, getting the right levels of sorrow and happiness as the movie veers left and right. Gyllenhaal perhaps has the more formulaic role, his Jamie is a sex crazy pharmaceutical salesmen looking for the all important promotion. Jamie is not really reaching his potential and messing about trying to get doctors onto 'Zoloft' a new version of 'Prosac.'

The entire first twenty minutes is 100% with Jamie, getting you into his world whilst packing a few laughs, especially with a very strong duo of supporting work from Oliver Platt as fellow salesman Bruce and Josh Gad acting as the side-kick brother Josh. Most of the 'laugh out loud' moments occur when one of these are on screen, and take a lot of the comic weight of the movie. That's not to say that when Maggie enters Jamie's world its all doom and gloom, many of the scenes are funny, but they all pack an emotional punch, the relationship between the two characters is so well written and portrayed you can always feel the uneasy situation that Maggie can't commit to Jamie, and Jamie can't help but need that commitment. Gyllenhaal pulls out all the stops to make sure you are with Jamie as he makes several decisions that could distance an audience member, showing the inner turmoils of his character exceptionally well. A scene with Jamie sitting in the bath and Maggie asking him "Tell me four things that you like about yourself," a perfect time for you to understand the man underneath the many sexual activities and his always smiling exterior.

However, at times the movie sways in very unusual directions. What feels like rom-com becomes pharmaceutical drama, becomes dealing with illness, and it at times the director appears to not know exactly what 'Love and Other Drugs' wants to be. In particular, before Maggie comes in the writers feel the need for us to understand 'Zoloft' as a medicine, but it is not needed, and it being so in depth feels a little unusual for the genre. Also, Platt's Bruce in the second half is almost forgotten, and when his character reaches his conclusion, it feels under-developed and then incomplete. Jamie's parents appear in the first scenes of the movie but never re-show. Why include this conflict if it isn't important?

Regardless of the small problems 'Love and Other Drugs' has, the two leads demand your full attention, and get the right feelings of happy/sad that any good comedy drama should do, and you are hoping for the bittersweet happy ending that the movie offers. It feels totally right, it doesn't pull the rug out from under your feet, it ends how you feel it would in real life. That's all good in my opinion.

Overall, I felt it was very entertaining, exceptionally acted, at times quite graphic in terms of sexual activity, but never dull or disappointing. A little dis-jointed perhaps, but it dared to go to places most films of a similar type don't, so it emerged with more kudos than criticism...



(taken from: TheAdamHarris)

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