¨I don`t know – you meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet that one person and your life is changed.¨
Love and Other Drugs is not a great film, but it is much better than most romantic comedies that have come out lately. I don`t know if you can call this a rom-com, it is much more dramatic and the comedy is left mostly for the supporting characters. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are both great actors and they have excellent chemistry together. They`ve worked together in the past when they played a couple in Brokeback Mountain, but this was a different type of film. The movie doesn`t just focus on the romance and comedy, it also tries to tell the history of how Viagra became such a hit in the 90`s for the Pfizer pharmaceutical industry. It`s in trying to balance these two separate stories that the film fails to connect with audiences in a higher level due to the time constraints of the film. We don`t have enough time to concentrate on either the drama or the romance and everything seems to lead to nowhere. It`s as if they tried to make two separate movies. The film is loosely based on Jamie Reidy`s book ¨Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.¨ The part that’s based on the book is the history of the blue pill. The romantic side of the story was added by the screenwriters, among them director: Edward Zwick (known for Glory, Legends of the Fall, and Blood Diamond). The romantic story is engaging, as is the dramatic side which in a way shows how corrupt the pharmaceutical system can be. It`s just not about saving people’s lives anymore, it`s about making a profit. That is why pharmaceutical companies spend so much money on a performance enhancing drug instead of trying to discover cures for Parkinson disease, which is a lot less demanding.
Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a charming young man who always seems to get his way with the ladies. He`s not searching for a relationship or anything serious, he just wants to have a good time and the females aren`t making his task any harder. Jamie worked as a salesman at an electronic store and he was pretty good at it thanks to his charm, but his trouble with the ladies gets him fired after he sleeps with the manager`s girlfriend. Jamie has no trouble at all finding a new job and he soon ends up working as a sales representative for Pfizer trying to convince doctors to recommend their medicine over other pharmaceutical companies. Apparently Pfizer wasn`t that big before Viagra, so they were having a hard time making it in the market. Jamie`s selling partner is Bruce (played by the very funny Oliver Platt) and together they dream of selling enough in order to get recommended for a bigger market like Chicago. Jamie begins to use his charm with the secretaries and receptionists in order to get appointment with doctors. One of his biggest clients is Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria) who allows him one day to stick with him at the clinic where he meets one of his patients: Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). She suffers from stage one of Parkinson disease and knows everything there is to know about pharmaceuticals. Jamie becomes obsessed over her and they soon begin a physical relationship without any of them wanting to become attached to each other. Jamie because he`s a womanizer and Maggie because she feels sorry for herself and has built an emotional wall over her in order to prevent getting hurt by love. At first the deal works well for both of them, but over time emotions begin to get in the way.
The romantic story is actually pretty believable and it feels real. Gyllenhaal and Hathaway have great chemistry together. There is a lot of nudity in this film and it isn`t your typical rom-com. It tries to be more raw and real, but I wasn`t too engaged with the story. There was just too much going on without anything actually happing. When the story seems like it`s going to focus on the relationship between both characters it jumps to the history of Viagra, and when it seems to get serious and focus on how corrupt the medical system has become (there is a particular scene where Dr. Knight tells Jamie that he got into medicine to save lives, but now the system has got to him) then it jumps back to the romantic side all over again. The highlight of this movie are the performances from both lead characters. The secondary characters are really all not that important and they never are developed very well. They seem to be there for the comedic scenes only, while the leads are in it for the dramatic roles. Jamie and Maggie are the only characters who are really developed in this story. Overall the film gave me the feeling that it could have been so much better, but they just didn`t manage to balance the drama with the romance well enough. They tried to make two separate movie into one and it didn`t work. I would recommend this for the strong lead performances only.