Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Movie with Abe: Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs
Directed by Edward Zwick
Released November 24, 2010

Good, quality romantic comedies are sometimes hard to pull off. It’s difficult to find a delicate balance between vulgar, R-rated humor, extensive nudity, and actual decent plotting that’s winning and heartwarming without being too corny. Recently, considerable emphasis has been put on the first of those elements, using foul language and arguably excessive displays of physical undress to achieve a surprisingly endearing and pleasant film such as “Knocked Up” or “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Now, veteran director Edward Zwick, helmer of “Defiance,” “Blood Diamond,” “The Last Samurai,” and “Glory,” approaches the genre with intriguing, mixed results.

What works without a doubt in “Love and Other Drugs” is the comedy. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are in their finest form as two people perfectly willing to engage in casual sex and a benefits-only relationship so long as it doesn’t develop into anything more personal. Gyllenhaal’s Pfizer rep Jamie Randall is an immutable flirt whose charm radiates around him and pulls in nearly enough woman he meets. Hathaway’s artist Maggie Murdoch is her own brand of free spirit, effortlessly seducing Jamie while at the same time calling him out on the vanity of his playboy nature. In essence, they make up a perfect pair.

Yet bliss built on a relationship where the involved parties aren’t allowed to fall in love with each other is sure not to last. Unfortunately, that’s where the film also begins to sag, as it delves into drama. The more serious moments, most of which involve Maggie’s debilitating condition, aren’t dealt with nearly as well as the comic material, and as a result the film becomes weaker when its characters aren’t proceeding along positively. By film’s end, however, everyone, including Gyllenhaal and Hathaway, has a better handle on the dramatic content and the film is enabled to go out on a more positive note.

Before both the couple and the film encounter any hardships, “Love and Other Drugs” is a furiously compelling and enthralling comedy with a terrific script and wonderful performances. The film, based on a nonfiction book by Jamie Reidy, also manages to seamlessly weave the real-life introduction of Viagra into its narrative, giving the film added depth and relevance. Mostly, however, the film’s title manages to appropriately prioritize the importance of its selected themes. At its purest form, this is a story about a relationship, begun in an atypical fashion but destined to evolve into something more. In that sense, the film is a roaring success, and, reassuringly, the film chooses to focus on its comic strengths.


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