Chick flick. Romantic Comedy. These are words that will make almost any man cringe when uttered by his girlfriend. I know I do. When my girlfriend mentioned the invite for an advanced screening of a new romantic comedy I almost told her to take a friend. I’m glad I didn’t.
Last night we took in the screening of ‘Love and Other Drugs’ at the AMC Olathe theaters. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie, a med school dropout in a family of doctors and an obnoxious younger brother Josh (a hilariously sleazy Josh Gad) who has just taken his medical software business public to the tune of millions. It’s 1996 and Jamie is a free-spirited, horny 20something breezing through life working in a stereo store while using his charm and good looks to keep a stable of ladies. At a family dinner, Jamie’s brother mentions a college friend working in Big Pharma that he wants to hook Jamie up with for a job. Enter Pfizer, maker of Xanax and Zoloft, and Jamie’s ticket to the big time. We see Jamie go through the training and rock star like entrance into the world of pharmaceutical sales where he lands the glamorous Ohio River Valley territory selling Zoloft and Zithromax. Jamie is mentioned by Bruce (Oliver Platt, awesome as always), who talks up making it to Chicago, the ‘big time’ of Midwest pharmaceutical reps. Bruce introduces Jamie to Dr. Knight (chameleon actor Hank Azaria), who is one of the top doctors in the area, but also only prescribes Prozac, made by Pfizer’s competitor Eli Lilly and rep’d by a cocky scumbag played by Gabriel Macht. After some schmoozing of the office girls and a check from Pfizer, Jamie finally works his way into Dr. Knight’s office and good graces where he meets Maggie (the stunning Anne Hathaway). Maggie is a 26-year-old with Stage 1 Parkinson’s Disease and bit of a chip on her shoulder. Jamie and Maggie’s first meeting is hilarious and sweet at the same time. Maggie really has no plans to get involved with Jamie, but his charm and initiative manage to win her over into at least a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship. After some time, and wild sex, the two manage to move deeper into a relationship, but when ‘true feelings’ begin to come up for Jamie, something else goes down. Maggie tells Jamie about a new ‘boner drug’ that Pfizer is bringing to market when he has some trouble performing. Jamie later mentions to Bruce the ‘boner drug’, which Bruce confirms to be Viagara. Armed with the knowledge of the potentially life changing drug, Jamie sets out to become the territory rep for Viagara. Viagara, as we all know has been a cultural phenomenon, launches Jamie’s career into new heights. Jamie becomes a top drug rep, has a great girlfriend, and is potentially sitting on top of the world. A trip to Chicago for a drug conference introduces Maggie to an alternative medicine conference dealing with Parkinson’s patients. Jamie meets her at the conference and meets a man whose wife has had the disease for 30 years. The man tells Jamie to run away from Maggie since it’s only going to get worse. This is really where the film moves towards the slightly sappy, romantic side. Jamie tries his best to find some kind of ‘cure’ for Parkinson’s and in return Maggie leaves him. I won’t tell anymore of the story as it would ruin the ending.
This film was by far the best romantic comedy I have seen. It’s smart, sexy, raunchy, and hilarious. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Hathaway worked very well, and their relationship was very believable. Josh Gad’s character added the raunchy ‘Hangover-esque’ guy type of comedy needed to keep the male half of a couple interested. Writer/Director Ed Zwick’s interpretation of Jamie Reidy’s novel Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagara Salesman translated extremely well to the big screen and made me want to read the book. I know, the movie is never as good. Overall, the film worked, the cast including Platt and Azaria were perfectly picked, and I would totally recommend it.
Hopefully ‘Love and Other Drugs’ does well at the Box Office and causes a trend toward ‘rom-com’s’ that work for both members of the sexes.
I give ‘Love and Other Dugs’ 4 1/2 Stars
Love and Other Drugs
2010 2oth Century Fox
Director: Ed Zwick
Writers: Ed Zwick and Charles Randolph, based on the book Hard Sell: the Evolution of a Viagara Salesman
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Josh Gad, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt
Coming to theaters November 2010