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Love & Other Drugs(2010)
Maggie (Hathaway) is an alluring free spirit who won't let anyone - or anything - tie her down. But she meets her match in Jamie (Gyllenhaal), whose relentless and nearly infallible charm serve him well with the ladies and in the cutthroat world of pharmaceutical sales. Maggie and Jamie's evolving relationship takes them both by surprise, as they find themselves under the influence of the ultimate drug: love.
For more about Love & Other Drugs and the Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray release, see Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 3, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt, Josh Gad
Director: Edward Zwick
» See full cast & crew
Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray Review
Cinematic Viagra, or a cold shower?
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 3, 2011
Love & Other Drugs is two films trying to be one. Call it cinematic copulation. The first is a pin-sharp satire of the pharmaceutical industry during the prescription drug boom of the 1990s. The other is a weepy romance about a sick, self-loathing girl and the immature guy who grows up and learns to love her despite her illness, finally freeing her to love herself. These two stories rub against each other frantically, belly to narrative belly, generating a few passionate sparks but not quite enough to start a fire. There's also some comedy that wants to edge its way into the action, but this is no ménage a trois. The comedy—the odd man out—just sits limply in the corner…watching. Okay, this is getting creepy. Let's drop that particular metaphor and start over. Director Edward Zwick—who normally helms war epics like Glory, The Last Samurai, and Defiance—briefly elevates Love & Other Drugs above the soppy kitsch of other rom-coms, but the film's edgy-for-Hollywood sex and smart dialogue unfortunately gives way to the kind of Kleenex-required melodrama we've seen a thousand times before.
It all starts snappily. Jake Gyllenhaal is Jamie, a natural born charmer who schmoozes his way from an underachiever's gig selling hi-fi systems to a potentially high-paying career as a pharmaceutical rep for Pfizer. It's 1996, the big drug companies are ramping up production on new meds to push on a ready-and-willing public, and there's a veritable war going on between Pfizer's Zoloft and Eli Lilly's Prozac for market dominance in the mental health field. Jamie's job? To flirt with receptionists and office managers—the gatekeepers—in order to gain access to doctors and convince them to write prescriptions for Zoloft. He's good at this, the flirting part at least. He brings flowers and sweet-talks the front desk girls, even sleeping with them if that's what it takes to get inside. He's an absolute lady-killer. Where Jamie has trouble is in making the hard sell, a litany of Zoloft factoids that he's learned to recite in the time it takes for a match to burn out. When it comes to Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria)—an influential general practitioner who's buddy-buddy with Trey Hannigan (Gabriel Macht), the aggressively competitive Prozac rep—Jamie decides to take a different tact: straight up bribery. He gives Dr. Knight one thousand bucks in exchange for the privilege of shadowing him for the day as an "intern," hoping the face-time will lead the doctor to switch to prescribing Zoloft.
It leads to something else entirely. In one of the most awkward Meet Cutes in rom-com history, Jamie gets smacked in the face for ogling the bare breast of one of Dr. Knight's patients, Maggie Murdock (Anne Hatheway), a feisty artist who catches on quick to the fact that Jamie is a rep and not an intern. (She should know; she's dated a rep before—Trey Hannigan, surprise surprise.) Nonetheless, Jamie and Maggie end up going out for coffee and before you can say "side effects may include diminished sex drive," they're pawing off each other's clothes on the floor of her loft apartment. What follows is a booty call montage that doesn't skimp on the nudity. Hathaway and Gyllenhaal both look comfortable au naturale in front of the camera, their perfect Hollywood bodies posed in bed like figures in a particularly steamy Renaissance painting. But here's the rain on the sexy parade: Maggie is in stage one of Early Onset Parkinson's disease.
Yes, Love & Other Drugs is one of those movies, the "disease of the week" romance. You can see where this is going. Wary of men who define her in the context of her illness, Maggie just wants a "friends with benefits" scenario minus the friendship, and Jamie—who has just starting shilling Pfizer's new "dick drug," Viagra—is more than content with this strictly carnal arrangement. At first. This professional ladies' man, after years of meaningless sex and fake connections with women, falls hard for Maggie. Will she let him in? Will she come to accept her condition? And will his feelings last even after he discovers that her disease is only going to become more debilitating? I think you know the answer to all three.
There are two ways of looking at Love & Other Drugs. Either it's too serious at the end to be truly funny at the beginning or it's too funny in the beginning to be so serious at the end. I'm leaning toward both. Two-thirds of the way through the film there's a drastic shift in tone when Jamie gets some solicited advice from the longsuffering husband of a stage four Parkinson's-afflicted wife: "Find yourself a healthy woman." From here on out, we're in waterworks central, leaving behind everything that made the early sections of the film so smart and sexy. We've essentially gone from the crisp satire of Thank You for Smoking to the bleary-eyed Terms of Endearment in a single scene. It's a bit rich for my blood, but there are legions of pillow-hugging romance fans—with hankies at the ready—primed to sob over Jamie and Maggie's romantic conflict. This is one of those critic-proof films that audiences either scoff at or scarf up.
I will say this: Love & Other Drugs is in a totally different class from the sub-set of flaky, cornball rom-coms that typically star the likes of, say, Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel. (Here's looking at you, When in Rome.) This is partly due to the directorial eye of the venerable Edward Zwick—treading territory somewhat similar to his late-80s TV series thirtysomething—who treats the movie's sex and nudity with an unselfconscious matter-of-factness that's refreshingly mature. Sex is a part of these characters' lives; why fetishize it? You also can't discount the star power that Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway bring to the film. Gyllenhaal does smug-but-vulnerable as good as anyone, and although I'm usually no Hathaway apologist, she's quite good here—alternately sexy, bitchy, and emotionally broken. It's definitely a step-up for her, performance-wise. In the end, it all comes down to how willing you are to be carried away by the film's swing from pharmaceutical spoof to outright tearjerker.
Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray, Video Quality
If you thought Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway were the only eye candy on display here, think again. Like most of 20th Century Fox's contemporary releases, Love & Other Drugs arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's simply spectacular, with a rich, natural filmic look and an image that has real depth. Let's start with the basics: The film's fine 35mm grain structure is fully intact—no smeary DNR, leaving faces coated in waxy digital residue—and there's not a hint of edge enhancement or any other digital tweaking. Clarity, without exception, is stunning. Facial texture, the threading on clothing, the surfaces of furniture and props—all are rendered with satisfying detail. Likewise, color is vivid but realistic, with perfectly balanced skin tones—hey, there's a lot of skin—and bright accent hues, all built on a foundation of rock solid black levels and tight contrast. The picture itself seems to be on Viagra, popping out like…well, you get the idea. Finally, with the film seated comfortably on a roomy 50 GB disc, there are no compression or encode issues worth noting.
Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As is true with most rom-coms, Love & Other Drugs' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track may not contain any aural showpiece/demo moments, but it more than capably handles the film's limited sound requirements. Obviously, the most important element here is dialogue, which is balanced, clean, and comprehensible throughout. Next comes the film's score—by James Newton Howard—and the various 1990s pop tunes used to give period flavor, all of which sound great, broadcasting from every channel with punch and clarity. Finally, we have the mix's soundfield-filling ambience, which is perhaps too quiet to generate a real sense of immersion, but definitely adds to the experience. You'll hear bar-room chatter, cheering in the rears during a pharmaceutical rep training seminar, city street sounds in Chicago, etc. As you'd expect from the release of a modern film, there are no crackles, hisses, or sudden drop-outs. Overall, the track complements the film well.
Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
While Love & Other Drugs is definitely smarter—and sexier—than the average rom-com, it still sticks close to the genre's long-established equations and formulas. It's just not as daring or divergent as it could be. Still, I understand—sometimes you just need a 1000 milligram quick fix of undiluted romantic escapism. The heady chemical cocktail of Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway may cause some to overdose, but for romance fans who dig stories about sick chicks and the dudes who care for them, Love & Other Drugs will probably be the perfect prescription. Let's not forget the disc's near-perfect high definition presentation, which just might arouse picture quality boners in hardcore videophiles. Recommended for rom-com connoisseurs only.
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Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray Announced - January 26, 2011
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced the romantic comedy/drama Love & Other Drugs for Blu-ray release on March 1. From director/producer Edward Zwick and based on the best-selling book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy, ...
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