Movie 1: This is not your average love story movie. Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a womanizer in every sense of the word. He is in it for a good time and sex. There are no strings attached and everything is low key, no pressure. It helps that he is really attractive. Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) is the anti-girlfriend type. She does not really want to get to know the guys that she sees. She is in it for the sex. She does not want to be taken care of. Maggie is basically the female version of Jamie. When the two get together, they realize that while the relationship is fun, they start having feelings for each other.
Movie 2: Jamie Randall is a low-achiever when it comes to having a job. After being fired from selling electronics after being caught having sex in the back room, he decides to get a “real” job that makes lots of money. He decides to become a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer. After undergoing the required training, he is assigned a region in Pittsburgh. There he is paired up with a sales rep veteran who is anxious to make it to the big leagues in Chicago. Jamie eventually picks up how to schmooze the doctors, nurses, and secretaries to get on their good side and get them to write prescriptions for Pfizer meds. On one doctor visit, he is allowed to shadow the doctor with the doctor introducing him to patients as an “intern.” During a doctor’s visit, he is introduced to Maggie Murdoch and her breast. Maggie finds out that he is really a drug rep and Jamie somehow scores a coffee date with her. They begin a casual relationship that soon becomes complicated.
Having seen Love and Other Drugs over a month ago and having it rattle in my brain for so long, I am a tad conflicted in what I actually thought about this movie. It feels like two movies that were mixed together and could have separately been two movies. It makes for a disjointed movie at times. The trailers for the movie do not really touch on the drug rep part of the movie, other than that is the reason Jamie meets Maggie. There is a possibility that the movie audience may not know what they are in for in the first 1/4 of the movie.
Love and Other Drugs is set in 1996. The reason behind this is that 1996 was before the drug Viagra was introduced by Pfizer. Jamie is not making that great of a sales quota working on promoting the anti-depressant Zoloft. His biggest competition is another drug company making a much more prominent anti-depressant that doctors prefer to prescribe to their patients. All of this changes with the introduction of Viagra. Everyone wants that drug, and it puts Jamie Randall on the map. The movie gives a pretty good account of what it is like to be a drug rep. It is pretty entertaining, and until now, I was not aware of how much a doctor’s office is inundated with drug reps on a regular basis. The movie states that it is based on a book called Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by James Reidy. This is only what the drug rep parts of the movie are based on. Reidy’s book has no love story in it.
The casting is great. The movie brought together Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway again after their pairing in Brokeback Mountain. They both can do comedic and dramatic roles very well. Considering Hathway’s Maggie is dealing with Parkinson’s disease, her character is more complex and more physically demanding than Gyllenhaal’s Jamie. She successfully portrayed the determination, sadness, and frustration that Parkinson’s disease needed. Parkinson’s disease was chosen by director and writer Edward Zwick because of Michael J. Fox’s battle with the disease. Probably the most powerful scene in the movie is when Maggie gets to hear from others with Parkinson’s disease. She sees what is in front of her, yet she has a renewed sense of excitement about her life. For Jamie, he gets to see what he might have to deal with in the future and it scares him.
The two main costars, Oliver Platt (as Jamie’s boss, Bruce Winston) and Josh Gad (as Jamie’s brother, Josh Randall), were the source of many laughs. Platt plays an aging drug rep with his sights set on Chicago. He shows Jamie the ins and outs of drug repping and Jamie in turn shows him some of his womanizing techniques. Gad plays the ultimate dorky brother to Jamie. Unfortunately for Jamie, Josh is way more successful than him, but falls back on Jamie when his marriage falls apart. Josh is the guy who never grew up and still has all the awkwardness of being a teenager in a man’s body. He loves porn and even his brother having sex on tape does not stop him. There is a small part for George Segal and Jill Clayburgh as Jamie and Josh’s parents. This is unfortunately one of the last roles to have Jill Clayburgh as an actress.
A lot will be made of the amount of nudity there is in this movie. The first taste of it is Anne Hathaway’s breast, and it just takes off from there. Jake Gyllenhaal’s rear end gets plenty of screen time. While there is quite a bit of nudity, I did not find it unnecessary or lude. I think both men and women will enjoy this part of the movie.
I enjoyed Love and Other Drugs, but I did not love it as I thought I would. The cast is great, and the story provides laughter and sadness at the right moments. If the movie had been a more cohesive story, making its two parts less apparent, it would have been a great movie. Although I would still recommend our Lost in Reviews readers to go and see this one, I do not think it is best movie of the year or even in my top ten. With a great director and writer in Edward Zwick, I expected more from Love and Other Drugs.
I give Love and Other Drugs 3 “old-school pagers” out of 5.
P.S. I am pretty sure there will be some swooning girls in the audience after the last few lines of the film.