Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie, a born salesman who takes on a job for Pfizer promoting Zoloft to doctors, and makes the transition to selling the Blue Pill while falling in love with Maggie (Anne Hathaway), an intelligent struggling artist with stage 1 Parkinson’s disease and a fear of commitment.
However, this description doesn’t begin to address the ambition of this film, and the countless emotional, social, and even political issues it attempts to address. It quite simply doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be.
We start out with the story of Jamie’s career as a salesman - both of his products and himself - and the sexual conquest that accompanies it. This is then nicely balanced with his and Maggie’s budding relationship and their cautious romantic back-and-forth, as Jamie achieves the position repping Viagara.
Here, though, this fine balance disappears, as we are rushed through hoops of the story, one at a time. Jamie begins to learn how to love, Maggie begins to accept her illness, Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure - all singularly, in neat succession.
Although Jamie is portrayed at turns a well-rounded, multifaceted character with many interesting traits, we have trouble seeing him as a unified person, for these traits never appear simultaneously.
This difficulty in dealing with different aspects of the movie comprehensively and throughout the picture appears also for its seemingly endless supporting cast. Each of these characters, while being convincingly brought to life by the superlatively talented likes of Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt, and relative newcomer Josh Gad, have their stories left loose-ended.
Despite some woodenness in the story however, Hathaway delivers a performance full of vitality and immediacy. In addition to Gyllenhaal’s documented charisma and honesty as an actor, both coming to full fruition here, he presents himself also as a talented physical comedian.
Although I was hoping for a little more depth into the story of pharmaceuticals in the ‘90s and the rise of Viagara (pun intended) than romantic comedy, I must say that the film definitely had me laughing, and Edward Zwick’s direction kept the film moving and interesting.
If you’re thinking of going to see Love and Other Drugs, you can expect a creation of more talent and interest than your average romcom, though not too much more.