You can learn a lot about Love & Other Drugs from simply watching the trailer. There's sex. There's Viagra. There's crying. There's at least one very over-the-top sappy scene in which Jake Gyllenhaal's Jamie chases down Anne Hathaway's Maggie and professes his love for her. What you don't see is that while the preview does accurately reflect the themes of the film, it is also often very funny.
Jake Gyllenhaal puts his good looks to work as Jamie Randall, a med school dropout who isn't sure of anything besides his ADD and his ability to sweet talk ladies into bed. When he's fired from his job at an electronics store (for sleeping with the boss's girlfriend, no less), Jamie takes a job in Ohio as a pharmaceutical sales rep to please his overly bourgeois parents. He seems perfectly suited to a life of schmoozing doctors and peddling anti-depressants until he meets Maggie Murdoch (Anne Hathaway), a no-nonsense Parkinson's patient who doesn't fall for Jamie's cheesy courtship rituals. One coffee date later, and Maggie and Jamie have agreed to a no-frills, strictly sexual relationship, since neither one is interested in being tied down.
To find out if their chemistry lives up to the hype, just read more.
There's a reason why the movie is called Love & Other Drugs and not the other way around. The movie starts off centered on Jamie and his budding career in pharmaceuticals, but ultimately, it's a love story. Once the film embeds itself into Maggie and Jamie's relationship, it only cuts back to the drug world for what feels like a fleeting moment. It's not an in-depth look into the world of pharmaceuticals in the 1990s; rather, Jamie's job is simply a catalyst for his relationship, and it eventually creates a problem as Maggie's condition worsens.
Though Jamie and Maggie's common denominators are low self-esteem and the inability to plan for the future, their no-strings-attached deal is quickly brought into question by their undeniable connection to one another. And it's easy to see why: though their romance is incredibly predictable, Hathaway and Gyllenhaal have onscreen chemistry to spare. The film is chock-full of sex scenes (and nudity) that range from carnal to comedic to sweet, but it complements the story without feeling excessive. Sure, you'll be able to draw Hathaway's breasts and Gyllenhaal's butt from memory after all is said and done, but the nudity actually fits naturally into a story about two twenty-somethings whose relationship largely revolves around sex (at least at first).
Both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway turn in fine performances but it's Josh Gad's supporting turn as Jamie's brother that shines the brightest. As Jamie's sibling-turned-freeloading roommate, Gad gets the best lines as he incessantly pokes fun at Jamie's cheesy attempts to win Maggie over. It brings an expected amount of raunchy humor to a film that could be otherwise passed off as drippy.
The problem with Love & Other Drugs is that director Edward Zwick doesn't seem to have a clear vision of what type of movie he's making. Maggie's constantly shaking hands represent a theme that is far too grim for a fluffy romantic comedy, but the movie is also too sappy and funny to be taken seriously as a drama. Though it has potential to represent an honest romance, eventually the movie falls victim to its inability to keep its sentimentality in check. However, the relationship at the epicenter of the film is more substantial than forgettable, making Love & Other Drugs a worthwhile movie if you can forgive a groan-inducing final act.