Title: Love and Other Drugs

Director: Edward Zwick

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Judy Greer, Gabriel Macht, Kate Jennings Grant

Much like modern medicine, Love and Other Drugs is so close in executing the perfect remedy. By staying thorough and exploring the two captivating leads, the flick is on the right path. The 113 minute story contains aggressive dialogue that will have one’s jaw slowly dropping as they becomes emotionally connected to the characters. All the notable supporting players act as stitches in keeping this script together. They also move it along and give it a necessary spark with the timely comedic sequences and introspective moments. Why does this sound so familiar?

Oh yeah, Up in the Air. Love and Other Drugs takes the same approach as last year’s Award nominee by keeping a straight face and tackling “adult” issues. However, this flick loosens up the tie and takes on a happy hour type tone more frequently.

Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes from a family who all have high-end careers. It’s 1997 and Jamie is in his mid-twenties searching for something that he can sink his teeth into. His family questions whether or not he has the drive to make something above average happen. Fully aware of this, Jamie takes his younger brother Josh’s (Josh Gad) advice and attempts to become a pharmaceutical sales rep. Josh – who just sold his software company for millions – believes that Jake has the look and can BS anyone into anything. He draws this conclusion for Jamie is irresistible when it comes to the ladies. Plus Jamie has found success working as a salesman in random department stores.

As forecasted by Josh, it’s a match made in heaven. Under the tutelage of Bruce (Oliver Platt), Jamie is well on his way to becoming a rock star for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. As he learns the ropes in schmoozing numerous doctors and their staff, he meets a woman in Maggie (Anne Hathaway). Their first meeting is a bit hostile but Jamie becomes intrigued by her personality and pursues her. Jamie may have met his match. Maggie always has her guard up and this because she has something that most other attractive women her age don’t have. Parkinson’s disease. This doesn’t stop Jamie and eventually Maggie allows him inside…Literally. The early stages of their relationship is strictly based on sex and both seem content with it. Jamie continues to see more money than he ever dreamed about and Maggie is happy to still have her security walls standing strong. Eventually, the barriers weaken and the two leads breakaway from their safety net in the hopes of possibly making this relationship work.

The only major issue with this flick is the tidy-ending one will see coming. Up in the Air didn’t have that coddling ending and that’s what made it standout. This flick tries to disguise the obvious but the strong performances can only do so much. Audiences will feel that dragging sensation as this flick begins to wrap. Despite that notion, everything that unravels prior is engaging and powerful. And funny.

The supporting players are just as valuable as the outstanding leads. Josh Gad is very close to having a breakthrough performance here. Although he is mainly used for comic-relief and he may not get any love at the award shows this year, his character nearly steals scenes away from the excellent Gyllenhaal. Credit this to the chemistry and the pacing of the story by director Edward Zwick. The relationships formed in the story are so natural that one will feel like they’ve actually known them for years. In other words, the audience grows with the characters, just as the characters grow with each other. Which says a lot since this less than two hours in length. Usually you need multiple sequels to achieve that type of response.

Obviously, if the performances are on point, the only aspect that can slow this flick down is the scripting. As mentioned above, it has some flaws. Well, it really depends who you are and what you consider solid storytelling. Some people will state the flick is uneven since it wants to tackle dramatic issues and then have some fun. An example of this is the manner of when the script chooses to focus on a sub plot. For instance, the story devotes multiple sequences to Jamie and Maggie’s complex relationship, but will also weave in the business and moral ethics of the pharmaceutical world, that Jamie is maneuvering through in late 90’s. The risk in doing this is a theme or two will be left incomplete and it could make you wonder why this is getting glossed over. Sure this flick shows signs of this issue, but it doesn’t take away or confuse the viewer as to what is happening.

Overall, Love and Other Drugs is a flick with addictive characters that will have audiences putting themselves in their world. Being that provocative is enough to warrant people of all ages to check out this callous drama-edy (drama & comedy). If Up in the Air is used as the new benchmark for these types of flicks, then let’s just say that Love and Other Drugs isn’t as smooth, but it is definitely more lively.

Love and Other Drugs is rated R. (4 out of 5)

Love and Other Drugs Poster
Love and Other Drugs Poster

By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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