Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material, 113 minutes
Raunchy "Love and Other Drugs" falls short
By all accounts, I went into the new romantic dramedy "Love and Other Drugs" thinking I would love it. It has two lovely actors, Anne Hathaway and "what's his name" Jake Gyllenhaal and a solid director in Edward Zwick ("Defiance," "Blood Diamond"), but for some reason this raunchy film left me feeling a little empty. Sure, Zwick stages some steamy scenes with a naked Hathaway and Gyllenhaal, but does a handful of sex scenes necessarily add up to a great movie? Down beneath all the sex, there's not much there, and the weak story fails to deliver a strong emotional core.
Based loosely on Jamie Reidy's best selling non-fiction book "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman" and it's set in the late 1990's. Gyllenhaal is Jamie Randall, a college grad struggling to find his way. He goes to work for pharmaceutical company Pfizer and does his best to eck out a living. Strong and handsome with chisled looks, he's never had a problem with women, until he meets free spirit Maggie (Hathaway), an artist struggling with some physical and emotional problems. They hook up, have hot sex, and engage in a "friends with benefits" type relationship until they begin falling for each other. Jamie realizes that Maggie is only using her problems as a shield to get in and out of relationships, but he must convey his true love for her.
Zwick and company deliver what has plagued many romantic comedies of late: a mediocre slipshod comedy with a few funny lines and moments. There are many mixed messages there - love in sickness and health - that are never really explored fully (and in one appalling scene a man whose wife has Parkinson's tells Gyllenhaal's character to promptly dump his woman and move quickly on because illness can destroy a relationship).
The uber-handsome Gyllenhall and the always warm, charming Hathaway (who bares just about everything here) perform well given the vacuous story, and while they're certainly eye candy, even their sex scenes have a cold, disconnected and very rehearsed feeling to them, lacking a certain hot vibe to make it genuinely steamy. And while the ending is heartwarming, you sorta know that these two would end up anyway ( see for yourself).
The rest of the cast is misused or underused. "21's" Josh Rad, way overused and largely unfunny; blink and you'll miss the cameos from George Segal and the recently deceased Jill Clayburgh as Randall's parents. Fine comic actress Judy Greer, hardly there. Handsome actor Gabriel Macht, not used enough. Pretty much explains the movie itself. It's certainly seeking a younger, edgier vibe with all the sex scenes, but as we know, good sex doesn't hurt, but it doesn't solidify a good relationship, or a good movie for that matter.
Given that a large part of "Love and Other Drugs" is about Viagra, the script could've risen to the occasion and toned down the sex and toned down the sex scenes and have these unsympathetic, cardboard characters work through issues we actually care about. But that would've been boring given the old addage that sex sells; in this case it sells the movie, just not a good movie.