Who says an outrageously sexy romantic comedy can’t also be meaningful? Well, Edward Zwick’s Love and Other Drugs proves that such is possible. Thanks to excellent casting and portrayals, a story that surprises as it progresses (Though a bit too slowly at times), and a soundtrack consisting of 80s-90s hits to make it fun (HEEEEYYY, MACARENA!!), this film is unexpectedly a good mix of spicy, sweet, and salty—like it could be a very, very slightly mildly addicting drug in itself.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Jamie Randall, a charismatic and charming spirit whose womanizing ways gets him kicked out of his job as a sound equipment salesperson. He gets work again right away as a pharmaceutical sales rep, putting his persuasive ways back into good use to also attempt to outdo a rival company salesman (Played by Gabriel Macht). During one sales pitch, he meets the young and beautiful artist Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). The two quickly jump into a casual relationship. It sounds only cliche that they would fall in love, but they do so, slowly and painfully as Viagra (The drug Jamie’s company starts to develop and sell later into the movie) rises to infamy (And how cool is it that they incorporate real news segments from 1997 about them pills?!). There are questions of “Are we or aren’t we?” and neither person is sure of exactly what they want. But perhaps the biggest obstacles are the health problems that Maggie endures, and that’s where the surprising depth and emotion comes into play in this movie—not just the capacity of what she has to go through, but we also see how it affects her feelings and fear of falling in love with anyone.
Love and Other Drugs marks Gyllenhaal and Hathaway’s second collaboration on the big screen, the first being in 2005’s highly-acclaimed drama Brokeback Mountain. Perhaps that is why the chemistry they share in this feature is so explosive. The fact that they have more together time here is many, many steps up from the great compatibility they already had five years ago. Although I haven’t seen or read anything explicitly from the filmmakers, these lead roles seemed and felt like they were written for them in mind—no one else could have executed them better. Their Golden Globe nominations (For Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy/Musical) are much more deserved than many of the others there (I’m side-eying you, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie! Or more like, I’m still side-eying you, Hollywood Foreign Press Association!), though moreso, Hathaway gives very heartwrenching performances in the film’s most moving moments. Yes, the two share some hot sex scenes and are quite pretty together to ogle at, but more importantly, they play off of each other on deeper levels naturally. Another noteworthy performance comes from Josh Gad, who provides some of the most incredible comic relief throughout as Jamie’s nerdy live-in brother.
And yes, there are times when the film pushes it with the raunchiness and the actual story doesn’t push further than it should and therefore becomes underwhelming at points, but it weathers through as one delightful and impressive work. Plus, if you squint really hard, you might discover a thing or two about life through its characters, and of course, love. Oh, and them other drugs too.
OVERALL SCORE: 7.5/10