Pitchforks: 1 out of 5 Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway Rated: R Opens: Nov. 24
There is nothing wrong with a good love story. Be it on the screen, the stage or in person, watching two people fall in love truly is a blessing and should be cherished. Admittedly some love stories are better than others, particularly those that involve us personally. Nevertheless, a good love story rejuvenates the senses of everyone who experiences it. A bad one, however, ruins everything.
“Love and Other Drugs” is just that, an awful representation of what love is and can be. To add insult to injury, “Love and Other Drugs” is an absolute abomination to the romance film genre as a whole. One honestly has to wonder about the mental state of Hollywood if “Love and Other Drugs” is the finished product that it is.
In the film, Jake Gyllenhaal (“October Sky”) plays Jamie, a too cute and too smart for his own good pharmaceutical salesman who is anxiously awaiting the release of Viagra, the infamous male enhancement drug. His job, of course, involves needing to convince doctors of the need to prescribe various drugs in a very charming and disturbing manner. In so doing he meets Maggie, played by the normally delightful Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada”), who is a patient of frighteningly portrayed doctor played by Hank Azaria.
From there the two cast no illusions as to what kind of relationship they are each looking for, one with little to no commitment and strictly physical. Generally films of this nature come with ratings of “X,” and can be found at most truck stop gas stations across the U.S. Instead Gyllenhaal, Hathaway, and obvious late bloomer in the ways of romance and love, director Edward Zwick, bring their rendition of smut to the big screen just in time for the holidays.
The reaction among most critics is mixed, which is to be expected for a romantic comedy. But the alarming trend among those who do like “Love and Other Drugs” is the feeling that it aptly defines our culture’s view on how two people fall in love. To assume and promote the idea that two selfish people can build on nothing more than lust is depressing. Love — both in real life and in film — cannot be forced, cannot be faked and cannot be disguised with narcotics and shameful uses of a partially nude Hathaway.
The rest of the ensemble is comprised of a number of individuals with some notable acclaim, including Oliver Platt who plays Bruce, Gyllenhaal’s co-peddler of pharmaceuticals. Sadly, but not surprisingly, Platt spends the entire movie drunk just to make it through not only his character’s life, but also the film’s duration.
The last straw in all of this comes in the way of guilt. Hathaway’s character is at the mercy of her disease and struggles with the hurdles and insensitivities of major drug companies. She also struggles with the behavior of Gyllenhaal while on the job in the very same profession. While Hathaway forcibly convinces the audience of her characters sainthood, the audience again is forced to accept the revelation that their lust can be converted into an actual loving relationship.
What the cast and crew fail to recognize is the audiences’ ability to recognize true love when they see it. Unfortunately “Love and Other Drugs” does not paint the clearest of endings, as one can certainly see that this will not end happily ever after because these two characters are so diluted and polluted in their own ways to know anything else.
Where love stories are a dime a dozen, good ones are diamonds in the rough, just like true love in real life. If the holidays have you craving some time in the theatre and a train wreck is what you want to see, “Unstoppable” is still in theaters and is a much better story for all to enjoy.
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