Love and Other Drugs is based on Jamie Reidy’s Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, a book about his years at Pfizer during the pharmaceutical company’s Golden Age. Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a womanizing, smart-mouthed slacker who gets fired from his job at an electronics store after he’s caught in the act with the boss’s girlfriend. He lands a gig as a sales rep for the big pharma giant and, true to his ways that have never failed him before, uses his charm and good looks to get an ‘in’ with Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria). He convinces Stan to let him observe his appointments and take notes, under the guise of a medical intern. This is when he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a sharp-tongued, free-spirited artist who also suffers from early onset Parkinson’s disease.
They form a kind of friends with benefits relationship that serves them well in the beginning. Maggie doesn’t want to get too close to anyone for fear of becoming a burden and Jamie is focused on scoring a big promotion to Chicago. As their casual sex arrangement transforms into a more emotional connection, Jamie must come to terms with her Parkinson’s long-term in order to open himself up fully to love but it’s Maggie alone who finally accepts her illness. As he struggles with his own demons, he must also indulge the whims of his younger brother, Josh (Josh Gad), who’s moved in with him, constantly find new ways to one-up a rival pharmaceutical rep (Gabriel Macht), and pimp out hot females to Stan in order to stay his numero uno.
I am a fan of Ms. Hathaway. Her personality and smile light up a room, she’s a versatile and talented actress, and she seems like a down-to-earth individual. But I don’t think she was right for this role. I didn’t get the artsy-fartsy vibe from her. Sporting beanie hats and bohemian clothing doesn’t make a person an artist. Ordinarily, nudity doesn’t bother me but seeing her naked all of the damn time became tiresome. To be fair, I was sick of seeing Jake Gyllenhaal’s butt, as well. Jamie’s transformation from insensitive jackass to adoring boyfriend is hardly believable amid steamy pajama parties and threesomes and flesh-peddling for doctors. Nice, melodramatic “I’m head over heels in love with you” speech at the end but, by that time, I didn’t care.
I think I would have liked Love and Other Drugs more if it hadn’t come off so schizophrenic and desperate for attention. It was trying to be too many things for too many viewers – weepy romance, light-hearted comedy, social and corporate commentary, soft core porno, Pfizer documentary… therapist. If they had concentrated their efforts on two, even one, less sub-plot, it would have made a noticeable difference. There’s no doubt that this is the film to watch if you’re hungry for healthy doses of Hathaway’s rack (which is beautiful, by the way – full and all-natural) or Gyllenhaal’s ass (also decent) but as a rom-com, it lacks depth and the laughs.