Teeming with vitality, passion and newly engineered pharmaceutical products, “Love and Other Drugs” incorporates a solemn twist into the clichés of the traditional romantic comedy.
The film marks a divergence from director Edward Zwick’s (“Blood Diamond,” “The Last Samurai”) traditional, fast-paced epics. Loosely based on Jamie Reidy's “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” the film presents a nonfiction account of his adventures in pharmaceutical marketing. Set in the ‘90s, a time of cultural rebellion against the resurgence conservative values, “Love and Other Drugs” make a humorous statement about the wonders of the decade’s emerging drug industry.
Reidy’s character is adapted into Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young, audacious electronics salesman known for employing his suave demeanor and irresistible good looks to seduce his clients into making purchases. His promiscuity gets the better of him, however, when he loses his job after being caught having sex with his boss’s wife in the storage room. From there – at the encouragement of his socially graceless yet financially successful younger brother Josh (Josh Gad) – Randall immerses himself in the world of prescription drugs, taking a job as a Pfizer sales representative. His witty charm and relentless sales tactics serve him well, especially in his sale of the new “wonder drug”, Viagra.
But like most romantic comedies, this all changes when he meets a girl – in this case, Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) – during one of his sales rounds in a doctor’s office. Maggie suffers from Stage 1 early-onset Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system characterized in its more advanced stages by impaired movement, postural instability, and trembling of the hands, arms, legs, and face. Through Maggie’s troubled character, the film sheds a compassionate light on the trials and anxieties Parkinson’s patients face.
To Randall, Maggie is different – a moody, coffee shop employed artist with a messy, urban loft apartment. Bold and daring in most respects, Maggie’s initial insecurities about her health condition cause her to shy away from relying on a man. Nonetheless, the two embark on a passionate, sex-filled relationship with tumultuous twists and turns.
The polished confidence of Gyllenhaal’s character balances out Hathaway’s character’s fervent eccentricities. With their phenomenal acting, the two make an excellent couple, harkening back to their days as another romantic duo in “Brokeback Mountain”. The boy-meets-girl storyline proves a bit cliché at some points, but what else can one expect from a 21 century romantic comedy? The incorporation of a neurological disease, coupled with excess nudity (admittedly, it was a bit too much at some points), gives the plot some unconventional twists. A talented cast, humorous storyline and offbeat issues make “Love an Other Drugs” an overall enjoyable experience.