'Love and Other Drugs' may cause drowsiness



Article Published: Dec. 2, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Love and Other Drugs' may cause drowsiness

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway star in 'Love and Other Drugs.'



frank@mountaintimes.com

"Love and Other Drugs": Side effects may include drowsiness, apathy and tedium. If these side effects persist, consult a better movie.

"Love and Other Drugs" should probably be taken with alcohol.

While stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal perform above and beyond, their stellar performances can't compensate for what boils down to an uneven and ill-paced romantic dramedy.

Though presented as a romantic comedy about a womanizing drug rep finding love in the midst of the late-'90s Viagra boom, "Love" is more of a muddled emotional jumble, haphazardly mixing some heavy, somber themes with standard-issue raunchiness, leaving viewers searching for meaning among the general incoherence of it all.

Gyllenhaal ("Donnie Darko") is Jamie Randall, a smooth-talking sales rep for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, enjoying all the perks 1996 has to offer, including its women.

This changes when he meets Maggie Murdock (Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"), a cynical artist who prefers "friends with benefits" to a straight-up relationship.

This, we learn, is because she's suffering from the onset of Parkinson's Disease, a fact that initially doesn't deter Jamie, who, after an eternity in the sack, finds himself falling in love with Maggie.

And then Pfizer releases Viagra, sending Jamie's sales - and its users' libido - through the roof. When faced with riding his success to a larger market or caring for Maggie, whose health will continue to deteriorate, Jamie must brace for some major moral ambiguity.

But this device only surfaces toward the film's final act, rather awkwardly at that, while the bulk is devoted to our leads' having inordinate amounts of sex.

An adult comedy, especially one that's not afraid to back down from sexual content, can be refreshing against cookie-cutter rom-coms, but this is borderline Skinemax, a "Sliver" for a new generation, but thankfully without any Baldwin brothers.

While Hathaway offers some pleasing, uh, visuals, it seems director Edward Zwick ("Defiance") concentrates more on pushing boundaries than story. The only catch is that after "Love's" first time, the rest rapidly takes on a sense of "been there, done that."

This includes the typical romantic comedy archetypes, like the wisecracking fat roommate (Josh Gad, "The Rocker") or a last-ditch attempt to regain one's affection, like recklessly chasing a bus on a crowded interstate to catch someone's attention, while endangering the lives of countless others with no police to be seen for hundreds of miles.

Zwick's bizarre combination just doesn't work, as the film is unable to fully focus on any of its conceivably important elements - Jamie's involvement in the pharmaceutical industry, the disease's effect on his and Maggie's relationship, and (go figure) character development.

"Love and Other Drugs" is just a hard pill to swallow, one best left behind the counter.

"Love and Other Drugs," rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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