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Ten Word or Less Review: I can’t take you seriously with no pants on.

Love and Other Drugs is a film which required the deft hand of a filmmaker who could skillfully toggle between sweet and serious.  The guy who made The Last Samurai isn’t that man. While there’s a lot of sugary pieces here the serious stuff seems softpeddled and tacked on.  Bait for respectability which it never deserves.  What should be hardhitting is fleeting and something we should want to invest more in can’t shake a feeling of artificial.  Superficial emotions and idiotic pratfalls keep cheapening the experience.

In Love and Other Drugs two good looking people, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, meet and then fuck as only they do in celluloid.  They meet cute, swap some barbs and then start knocking over furniture in the act.  In the real word this fantasy is what’s made up for Penthouse Forum readers.  Gyllenhaal and Hathaway flaunt their ballyhooed physiques for erotic purpose in scene after scene of lustful gyrating.  They’re two actors who seem beneath being cast for their bodies but alas, here they are, toned, naked and hot for each other.  To gussy it up and supply dramatic weight Anne’s character, Maggie, has stage 1 Parkinson disease.  But that’s not important at first because all they do is screw and that’s all they intend to do.  Of course feelings start to run a bit deeper and the usual complications arise. “I’m shallow let’s screw” “I’m fine with that”  “I love you.”  “I’m sick.  Go away.”  “Okay I’ll leave.  Wait.  I still love you. I’m not leaving.  I want to stay.  I don’t want to be shallow anymore.”  “Okay. I love you too. Stay.”  On that level it’s no different from the other 500 movies of its kind but because a serious disease is involved we’re supposed to lend a bit more attention.

LAOD would like to be a shiney romantic comedy as well as a meaningful drama and marrying the two desires creates a mash up of movie mush.  Gyllenhaal and Hathaway have an affecting enough chemistry together.  Their back and forth is passable, even enjoyable at times, but the movie only feels meaningful in a few places.  The Parkinson’s angle is dealt with as honestly as a movie like this will allow but other things keep ruining the landscape.  A scene with people who actually suffer from parkinsons puts the rest of the movie to shame.  They defiantly drop f-bombs on skills which they can no longer perform.  Director Ed Zwick foolishly piles on peppy montages of the glory that is these two hot bodies nailing each other, as well as the greater glory that is Gyllenhall selling pharmaceuticals.  So much so that both acts are repeated to the point of redundancy. The movie has a mixed mind regarding this ethically questionable industry that is drug sales.  While it pokes and chides the proliferation of Viagra culture in small quantities the producers seem more than happy to take Pfizer money and flaunt thier products unabashedly.  In the end the film seems scared of its own shadow in many ways, hopelessly addicted to the very conventions which it’s trying to rise above.  Calling it gutless would be mean but not off base.  It want’s things both ways.  Nibbling at the hand that feeds it but never actually biting.

Really screwing up things is Josh Gad, a pudgy, unshaven stand-in for Jack Black.  In a casting decision which can only be described as clusterfuck, this slovenly grub is cast as Jake Gyllenhall’s multimillionaire brother.  This is supposed to be related to this?  And the later one is rich and successful?  Superman flying around the Earth to turn back time was easier to swallow.  His character is a pathetic schlub in the middle of a life crisis and his every scene throws things completely out of whack.  He shows ass crack, get’s caught jerking off, sits around in week old PJ’s and never leaves his brothers apartment.  There’s an acknowledgement of some of this nonsense but it’s still ridiculous.  He contributes nothing to the narrative and his complete exorcism from the movie would’ve helped supply a little more credibility to things.

Love and Other Drugs tried not to be middle of the road but despite its admirable intentions that’s squarely where it wound up.  It doesn’t have the courage to follow through with it’s stronger elements.  Had Zwick and company committed themselves to making something a little edgier a gutsier story would have emerged.  As it is we have an overly polished movie highlighted by great looking people having magnificent movie sex.  If that’s fine with you go forth and enjoy.

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