Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love and Other Drugs

Initially Published Here

Buried somewhere in this mushy, formulaic mess of a movie is a half-way interesting story. The film is ostensibly based on a non-fiction bestseller about a young, hot-shot pharmaceutical rep who starts work for Pfizer shortly before the drug giant unleashes Viagra on an unsuspecting and eternally grateful world. But the film quickly loses interest in this thread and instead turns into a generic modern day romance where two seemingly disparate souls find true love, lose it, then find it again.

Let’s pause here, as to take a few minutes to discuss a relatively new Hollywood trend – I’m talking about these romantic comedies that feel the need to stretch out to nearly two hours or more to tell their tired, clich├ęd stories. MSN film critic (and former Premiere magazine editor) Glenn Kenney hit the nail on the head in a recent review of the latest Katherine Heigel perpetrated injustice (aka, Life as We Know It). In rom-coms of yore, our two lovers would spend most of their time coming to the conclusion that they were meant to be together and the film would end with their pairing. But today they couple needs to pair up, then breakup over some contrived conflict, and then spend another 15 or 20 minutes realizing that they really should be together after all.

In the case of Love and Other Drugs, we are talking about Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), the ‘Type A’ salesman extraordinaire and Maggie (Anne Hathaway), the free spirit whose cynical world view is a result of suffering from Parkinson’s at the age of 26. The two are determined to keep things fast and loose as per their usual M.O.’s, but quickly find themselves falling for one another. Fine. I’m not a cold-hearted jerk. I can go along with these machinations when the actors as charming as Gylenhaal and Hathaway are involved. And the film is refreshingly adult in its acknowledgment of the significant role sex plays in their relationship (although I could have done without Jamie’s painfully unfunny horn-dog brother played by Josh Gad in a role that even Jonah Hill would have passed on). But then the filmmakers feel the need to break them apart despite the fact that everyone in the audience knows damn well that they will be back together before the credits start. And that’s when it's time to start checking out; the unreturned messages, the bad dates, the pursuit that entails when one partner, typically the guy, realizes his mistake (this one involves a busload of adorable seniors). Enough already! Get them together again and get me out of here. Would I have loved this film if had ended 20 minutes sooner? Probably not, to be fair. But I woudn't be this choked with bile and anger, either.

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