Movie Review: Love and Other Drugs

by Vincent Scarpa on November 26, 2010

in Print Reviews

I went into “Love and Other Drugs” with mid-level expectations.

I expected Anne Hathaway to be adorable, the script to often be pretty funny, and that the structure would more or less follow that of the typical romcom. All of this was fine by me; it seemed more or less right up my alley.

However, I was pleasantly surprised at all this movie had to offer, in ways big and small. In reality, this was so much more than a romantic comedy — actually it wasn’t really all that funny.

Sure, there were some brilliant one-liners, but I’d say this was a romantic drama, through and through.

The film charts the ups and downs of Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), two tremendously broken people navigating their late twenties. Jamie is a pharmaceutical rep for Pfizer, and Maggie is a promiscuous artist with early onset Parkinson’s disease. And while a line graph of their relationships might look a lot like any other romcom, the ups and downs are grounded in a foreign context that I’ve never seen.

“Love and Other Drugs” is a film that asks more questions than it answers. And it’s one that isn’t afraid to be honest about love and sex and how impossible it is to ask for what we want. The film knows the human condition inside out, and is written, directed, and acted with that knowledge.

All of this and more make it a film above average, stuck in a genre that never gets the respect it deserves. Anne Hathaway’s performance was just as strong as her Oscar nominated one in “Rachel Getting Married,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went unrecognized.

Reviews for the film have been mostly negative, and if you’ve followed my blurbs here and there on Scene-Stealers, you know that I tend to disagree pretty often with the general consensus. Maybe I expect less, or I’m easier to please, or maybe it’s just that my MO when I see a movie isn’t “What can I hate about this?”

Yes, the film has its shortcomings. It’s montage heavy and drags on a bit in the middle, to name a few. But those small issues, at least for me, were marginal compared to the great things the film made me feel.

In a group of three, I was the only one who felt this way, which is maybe the best way to say the movie isn’t for just anybody. “Love and Other Drugs” wants an open-minded audience, people who are maybe a little bit bruised, yet hopeful. If that’s your game, get your butt into a theater seat for this.

Also, it must be said that these are some of the best sex scenes I’ve ever seen. They’re tastefully done, yet the most realistic I’ve seen in some time. So if you’re not a little bit bruised but hopeful, and instead, are kind of a pervert and want to see a lot of naked Anne Hathaway, then this still might be worth sitting through—she’s naked a whole lot.

I’m interested to see what you all think. Who’s seen it?

Vincent Scarpa

Vincent Scarpa is a graduate of Emerson College, and the recipient of the Norman Mailer Four-Year College Writing Award. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Baltimore Review, and plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2011.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alisha November 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I saw a market research screening of Love and Other Drugs this summer and thought they might cut some of the many many sex scenes for the final…sounds like they disregarded my advice and kept them. Either way, I like that it’s a story about a real couple having real problems rather than what’s for dinner and who gets more space on the DVR. And the 90′s references were good for a laugh.

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2 Eric Melin November 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I thought this was supposed to turn into a weepie movie and Jake would learn a Jerry Maguire-like lesson about the morality of his job? At least that’s what the previews were selling…hmm.

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3 Lisa Coble-Krings December 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Loved the movie. While most romantic comedies are forgettable, this one was worth discussing after it was over. More humorous than I expected. I would agree with most of what the reviewer had to say. Thanks for sharing. An interesting flaw in the movie. Jamie Randall is supposed to be in his late 20s with a younger brother who has been married for 10 years (as stated in the car scene on the giggle-provoking ride to the hospital)… when did the younger brother get married, at 15?! :-P

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