Based in part on the book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, Love and Other Drugs is a smarter than average romantic comedy, with refreshingly frank sexuality for a mainstream film. I’ve seen it compared to Up in the Air, which I completely disagree with & which misses the point of UitA altogether. And, as we’ve already established, I think 127 Hours is this year’s Up in the Air.
But *anyway*. Love and Other Drugs is a late 90s period piece (hee), centered on Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), a charming salesman type (hence the UitA comparisons) who begins working for Pfizer just before the dawn of Viagra. He is partnered with Oliver Platt (*heart*), and they sell Zoloft etc in a lower-rung Midwest market, hoping to work up to Chicago. Which ain’t never gonna happen, as long as they’re up against Prozac, but we all know Viagra will. Um. Yes.
So, against the background of these men and their sales, Jamie has a meet-cute-borderline-sexual-harassment with Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a woman with stage one Parkinson’s. They have a one-night stand that develops into a relationship, whether they want it to or not. She in particular does not want, which is always a nice change, and he has enjoyed screwing his way into doctor’s offices up until this point, so he’s not too keen on an emotional connection either.
This being a sort of rom-com, they’ll get it together in the end, no surprise there, but you’re rooting for them both the whole time. They’re both adorable, they have great chemistry, and Hathaway is so good she’s almost in a different movie. Her Parkinson’s is treated with respect, the broken American health care system is treated with frankness, and the film hits all the genre markers. It’s not trying to be anything more than what it is, and I was along for the ride.
The one gigantic problem I had with the movie was Jamie’s brother, played by Josh Gad, a boorish fellow good for nothing but aggravating the hell out of Jamie and audience. If it were up to me, I would remove his entire presence from the film, and I firmly believe not a thing would be lost, and if anything, a bit of class would be regained.