Love and Other Drugs
Critics have been fond of calling this film an ‘adult romance’. What this roughly translates as is ‘there’s lots of nudity’ because there’s little else to distinguish this film from other genre rom-coms. The coup that the movie executives scored in Anne Hathaway’s nudity clause becomes more than just a visual treat for the reluctant male audience; it is the movie’s number one selling point and the marketing department have picked up on this with the keen eye of the connoisseur. All the same a movie must be assessed on its own merits and it’s here that Love and Other Drugs really comes up short.
The problem (for once, the cynical observer might say) isn’t Jake Gyllenhall. It possibly isn’t even Anne Hathaway, whose character I found to be that irritating combination of self-righteous confidence and kooky neuroticism, but the way all these pieces fit together. Is it a love story? Yes, but not a particularly affecting one. Is it a comedy? Well, Josh Gad’s inclusion on the cast list would indicate so but that’s the only clue you’ll get. So is it a satire on the pharmaceutical industry? I’m not sure, but I’m inclined to think not. The reason that they seem not to have been bombarded by Pfizer lawsuits is that the film doesn’t really portray the drug reps as immoral villains, nor the doctors as being in the pockets of the drug companies. No, the film has a lack of focus that stems from its tentative belief that it’s awards bait when in fact it should be an old fashioned adult rom com (in the vein of this year’s Going The Distance).
As a result what should have been described as ‘a refreshingly honest and adult comedy’ becomes an amorphous blob of half-baked ideas and thinly veiled ambition. The incredibly, but seemingly not self-consciously, clichéd final act (which includes a desperate car chase) suggest that there might have been an original script that was just the fraction too edgy. They can do break-ups in Gone With The Wind and Casablanca, but it seems that studio executives are more concerned with happy endings than the protracted sight of Jake Gyllenhall and Anne Hathaway wearing nothing but the clothes they were born in.
A depressingly soulless film that isn’t helped by the fact that one of its leads is on uncharacteristically annoying form. A tough sell.