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Jackie K. Cooper

Jackie K. Cooper

Posted: November 30, 2010 10:08 AM

Love and Other Drugs is one of those movies that looks so good in the trailer and is so disappointing when you go to see it. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway and appears to be a love story between a healthy man and a girl with a medical problem. Too soon it breaks down into Love Story without the love. Then it spins into a polemic on drug companies and health insurance and a million other things. It finally ends up being about nothing much at all.

Jamie (Gyllenhaal) is a golden boy who can sell igloos to Eskimos. He gets into the pharmaceutical game and is an on the rise young sales genius. Through one of his clients he meets Maggie (Hathaway), a free spirit who has some medical problems. They enter into a no holds barred relationship that requires no commitment on either of their part.

Later her health does become a factor, and also his commitment to the sales game. But in the meanwhile they have a rip roaring great time physically with each other, which we see in detail. There is much nudity involving buttocks and breasts, but it is strangely non-stimulating. It just seems gratuitous and aimed at titillating the audience.

Gyllenhaal plays his smarmy character with gusto. He seems to have adopted the George Clooney school of charm as his go to reference. It doesn't wok that good for George and it certainly isn't enhanced by Gyllenhaal's efforts. Still he is better than Hathaway who never defines her character. She is moon-eyed and annoying from start to finish.

Josh Gad is supposed to be annoying as Jamie's brother Josh, and he is. Still his personality is more acceptable than Maggie's. He doesn't appear to know any better while Maggie is annoying just for the hell of it. Oliver Platt plays another sales rep and it is a typical Oliver Platt role so he does it to perfection.

Director Edward Zwick is the man behind the TV series Thirtysomething and Once and Again, so he knows a thing or two about relationships. That knowledge is not on display here in any measure. There is no consistency of character, no specialness in the relationship, and no plot development that engulfs the audience. The audience leaves with an empty feeling rather than warmth.

The film is rated R for profanity and nudity.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are talented people. That is why their lack of charisma in this film is so surprising. We never see the heart beneath Jamie's exterior and we never see the vulnerability so inherent in Maggie's character. We never see them in a way that makes us accept them.

There was a lot of expectation for Love and Other Drugs to be one of the season's top movies. That is an expectation that did not materialize.

I scored "Love and Other Drugs" a prescription 4 out of 10.