Monday, November 29, 2010

Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs has two notable things wrong with it, one major one nit-picky.  The major one is the fact that it has no idea what kind of movie it wants to be.  Part chick flick, part serious romance, part steamy love affair, part slapstick comedy, part gross out romp, part medical drama.  Just pick one, don’t market yourself as the cute little holiday movie for adults.  You aren’t that because you’re trying to be so much more.

Jake Gyllenhaal is a pharmaceutical rep who finds great success when his company starts selling a new drug called Viagra (the year is 1996).  But his great challenge is wooing a tough as nails little vixen (Anne Hathaway) who just happens to have stage one Parkinson’s.  The two start one of those let’s-not-be-serious-and-just-fuck-all-the-time relationships, before, of course, falling for one another.  Then they argue, then they break up, then… do I really need to continue?

Here’s the good, and upsetting, part.  Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are good together, damn good, in fact.  Their chemistry, in and out of the bedroom, is almost always believable; their scenes together are the only decent ones in the film.  This is upsetting because their powerful chemistry belongs in a better, more developed film, with a better, more poignant script.  Like… Brokeback Mountain for example.  Oh, wait.

Now for that other nit-picky flaw.  It is becoming an increasing trend in movies to have either the very beginning or the very end (or both) narrated by a main character.  Not the entire film, just the bookends.  This is pure laziness.  Instead of sticking to the narrative the film has carried for the past two hours, it switches up in the last two minutes, simply because it is easier. Good films do this too.  An Education was a fantastic film, damn near ruined by its final minute of worthless, out-of-place narration.

Love and Other Drugs commits this crime in a far more brutal way.  Instead of showing us a few clips using, you know, creativity, Gyllenhaal’s voice booms over the soundtrack, summing up every plot element of the film.  Not that anything could have saved the movie. By then, it was far past redemption.

This isn’t an awful film, but we’ve seen better from all the major principals involved, including director Edward Zwick, who’s known for action epics like Glory, Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai, and Blood Diamond.  Zwick's got the love down, but maybe he should've shot a little coke into his film, thereby giving it a pulse.  D+

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