Love and Other Drugs, starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, is based on a real story set in mid-90’s: Jamie, a drug-rep (Gyllenhaal) meets a young Parkinson patient Maggie (Hathaway).
Jamie is a self-confessed shit-head. He doesn’t care about anything and anyone, and as his geeky new IT millionaire younger brother tells him: if he could make fucking girls a profession he’d make a lot of money. (I do believe this profession exists but this is by the by.)
When Jake, oops Jamie, meets Maggie he’s pretending to be an intern in a hospital. When she discovers his lie, her reaction is so dismissive that she intrigues him. Thus the games start but Maggie turns out to be quite the shit-head herself and only allows this relationship, as long as it is doesn’t become a real relationship.
Obviously (this is Hollywood after: all beautifully shot, rampant, meaningless sex is not to be encouraged) it does evolve into a relationship but does it have a future?
Jamie is doing great: he gets to sell Viagra (” Who could be better at selling a dick-drug than me?”) rides the hype, rakes in the money and the promotions. Meanwhile there is still no cure for Parkinson’s and Maggie though resilient is well aware of her fate. There comes the question: if you love someone is it better to set them free than to bind them to you with misguided moral obligation?
The film is a rom-com similar to Going the Distance: a traditionally female orientated concept infused with enough dude-jokes to keep the reluctant men that got dragged into the cinema by their Gyllenhaal-eyed other halves happy. Dialogue can be straightforward if not crass and the humor physical. (Think: people walking into doors, a masturbating brother, a reaction to Viagra.)
At the times when the above falls away, we switch into dramatic rom-com and the vulnerability of both characters is exposed. The reviews out there have been mixed. Some have called it confused and I incline to agree with them, there are a lot of elements in the plot: the relationship of Jamie and Maggie, the ethical side of drug-reps, the Parkinson plot, the stab at American Healthcare, the Jamie’s self-esteem plot and the funny brother sidekick who will eventually voice the point of the story, in case you dumb-asses missed it out there.
I agree in crossing- over genres, it is hard to get the balance right. Here though the genres actually reflect the relationship and the heart of the story. The high paced physical sarcasm that both characters take on to keep themselves standing, hides their vulnerability that makes them human. A vulnerability that is acted out in some gorgeous moments.
The dude-jokes try to cover, or lighten up, the foundations of the chick-flick: the very basic but complicated need for love. I think anyone can relate to this mix, or perhaps as Jamie would say, I think everybody does.