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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Love and Other Drugs

Director(s)Edward Zwick
Writer(s)Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz
MusicJames Newton Howard
StarsJake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad
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Love and Other Drugs is about holding on to love. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, a promiscuous Pfizer sales rep who experiences something that changes his course in life: he falls in love. Anne Hathaway plays the Parkinson's disease oppressed girlfriend, Hank Azaria is her doctor, Josh Gad plays Randall's sleeps-on-the-couch brother, and Oliver Platt is his supervisor at Pfizer.

The story is loosely inspired by Jamie Reidy's book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman (the book has no love story or dynamic characters, it's simply an account of the somewhat shocking and humorous career of its author). Jamie Randall seems to be on a fast-paced, sex-ridden road to success. He meets Maggie (Hathaway) at a doctor's office (where he's trying to sell Zoloft), and decides he just has to get in her pants. And he does, several times. At first it's just sex, but then they begin to fall in love. The story is deeper than that though. Maggie has Parkinson's disease, and as the plot progresses Jamie begins to wonder if he really wants to be burdened.

I think (and Roger Ebert agrees) that this movie is an example of good direction with a mediocre script. I felt that the first half-hour or so of the film was typical romantic comedy. However, I'm conflicted. While I found Jamie's insatiable lust to be cookie-cutter love story stuff (you know, the whole catch a man that can't be caught thing), it proved essential when he had to decide which life he wanted for himself. I can confidently tell you that the brother was an entirely unnecessary character, though I thought Josh Gad gave an excellent performance. To the writers' credit, the heavier aspects of this story are very well written, and not superficial (like some of their work has been).

James Newton Howard wrote the original score. He's definitely not a genre shaker, but he does his job well. You wouldn't even know you were hearing music if you weren't listening for it, because it fits the scene that well. The soundtrack is speckled with some exciting names: The Kinks, Beck, Liz Phair, and Bob Dylan.

My rating for this film: Loverelevant.