As rom-com's go, Love and Other Drugs is a slightly more intelligent and deep affair than most of its counterparts. It is a sexually charged as well as a very moving look at love and how what we want isn't always what we need and what we need might end up being what we love.
It's basically a love story with a twist. Set in the 90's world of pharmaceutical sales, we see Jake Gyllenhaal's character Jamie Randall as a slightly lost but extremely charming and sexy electronics salesman turned pharmaceutical rep, who could sell a dildo to a nun. Jamie doesn't what a relationship or anything like it and is the usual lothario with a twinkle in his eye. That is until he meets Maggie, a quirky, moody artist with enough attitude to catch his eye for the first time since, well since ten minutes ago when he seduced the doctor's secretary where he is trying to pedal his companies latest miracle cure.
Love and Other Drugs is one of those rom-com's that tries to fool its audiences into thinking that it isn't just your usual rom-com, and that more serious issues are afoot, and a deeper more meaningful film will be revealed after the initial laughs and cliche's have been played out. In part this is true, and there is in fact a deeper issue that is brought into focus and handled like a rookie surgeon holding his first scalpel. This issue is Parkinson's disease, an illness that is not usually the subject of 20 something romances, and usually not something a twenty something has to think about. It is also not something that our main character Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) thought he would have to think about either.
However after not ever taking a relationship seriously, things start to get serious between the two commitment phobe's, as they play the who doesn't like each other the most game, until neither one can deny that they've fallen for each other. Things get even more serious as Maggie's symptoms of her early onset Parkinson's start to present themselves and the couples relationship is tested beyond most couples commitment.
The problem with Love and Other Drugs is that like a cocktail of meds, the intention of Edward Zwick’s film, seems to be slightly confused. The theme of the fast paced money machine that is American pharmaceutical sales in the 90's seems to be merely a coincidence in terms of the theme of Maggie's disease, and no more parallels are drawn after his initial meeting with her in the doctors surgery where he is trying to schmooze the resident GP into buying his drugs. Add to this some genuinely hilarious slapstick comedy from Jamie's clumsy oaf of a brother, more suited to a teenage comedy, and a scene where a tramp starts getting his life together after finding Jamie's stash of Prozac dumped in a bin outside the hospital, and you have a rather mixed up love story that isn't sure if its an out an out comedy, or a moving insight into a relationship struggling with a terminal illness. In some ways Love and Other Drugs is both, and Gyllinghall and Hathaway's performances at least convince the audience on the love part, as their chemistry is undeniably strong, along with some very brave nudity, especially on Hathaway's part.
However despite the mix up of genres, and the films inability to be convincingly one or the other, the love story between the two leads is still rather moving, and I genuinely loved how it tried to spin a positive on Maggie's disease because it as it serves to shed a special poignancy to the romance, as Jamie explains towards the end of the film, that he doesn't want the relationship where in a few years time they argue about money and who's turn is it to wash up, he wants their unique special, fiery relationship even if that means looking after her for the rest of her life, some relationships are unique and even if that sometimes means its difficult, it's unique and special to them and they don't want to be with anyone else. This idea I could at least get on board with and the moving end scene served to prove his point. The film's message is delivered by showing a sexy, care free world of money,power and corruption and sex without consequences but ends with saying that what is more important is a special relationship and sometimes that takes sacrifice.