Love and Other Drugs

Critic rating:
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MPAA rating: R
Genre: Drama
Ann Hornaday's take: Director Edward Zwick ("thirtysomething") is earning early praise for returning to his roots in relationship comedy.
The story: A free spirit and a pharmaceuticals executive embark on an unlikely love affair with intoxicating results.
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Judy Greer, Brenna Roth, Gabriel Macht, Jaimie Alexander, George Segal, Katheryn Winnick
Director: Edward Zwick
Running time: 1:43
Release: Opened Nov 24, 2010
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Editorial Review

'Love & Other Drugs': Don't call us in the morning

By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Give Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway this much: They have the best eyes in the business.

That's the most cheering takeaway from "Love & Other Drugs," a jagged little pill of a movie from baby boomer avatar Edward Zwick ("thirtysomething"). Here Zwick turns his attention to millennials riding the financial bubble at the turn of the 21st century. We all know how that turned out, and the retrospective bitterness finally curdles what might have been a quirkily of-its-time love story. "Love & Other Drugs" plays like a grotesque group portrait of pigs at the trough. (The movie is loosely based on Jamie Reidy's memoir "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.")

And none of those pigs is feeding more blithely than Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal), a charming rake and underachiever who becomes a pharmaceutical salesman for Pfizer; during his rounds he meets Maggie (Hathaway), a spiky bohemian whose elbows-out demeanor belies a meltingly soft center inside. It's a character Hathaway proved adept at channeling in "Rachel Getting Married," and here she exploits Maggie's contradictions to the hilt, reveling in her unkempt overalls and dirty feet while maintaining perfectly curled hair. When her preternaturally lambent brown eyes meet Gyllenhaal's big blues, it's like a standoff between the genetically super-gifted ("Whose! Chromosomes! Will! Win!").

As a couple with deep commitment issues (hers far more sympathetically motivated than his), Gyllenhaal and Hathaway generate a simmering erotic heat, and when the story takes a serious turn, she especially keeps things tartly crisp and safely out of "Love Story" melodrama.

Despite some grave challenges, Maggie emerges as only the warm-blooded empath in a pit of vipers, each of whom is on an aggressive path of greed, sexual manipulation and ego gratification.

The supporting characters, who range from slimy to merely off-putting, include Stan (Hank Azaria), an ethically challenged physician, and Bruce (Oliver Platt), Jamie's mentor-slash-competitor at Pfizer. But the most loathsome of the pack, Jamie's porcine brother Josh (Josh Gad), a slovenly tech millionaire who somehow can't afford his own place when his wife throws him out.

"Love & Other Drugs" admittedly features a terrific Hail Mary of a climactic scene. But too often the moral of this story seems to be "Love means never having to say you."

Contains strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive profanity and some drug material.