Love and Other Drugs

This R-rated film starts out as a raunchy sex comedy with nude folks cavorting around. In my opinion, watching the emotional shift of the two lead characters as their relationship evolves is the perfect arc for us, their audience, as we ease into some of the stark realities for both a patient and his/her family when confronted with a degenerative, incurable disease.

Based on Jamie Reidy's memoir Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, we follow a randy devil-may-care salesman as he seduces his way from one marketing escapade to another. It is clear that he can sell...he just can't keep his fly zipped. His successful family despairs of him ever settling down. He smooth-talks his way into a pharmaceutical sales job for Pfizer just before Viagra is launched, and we are treated to the mind-boggling statistics of "Big-Pharma" during his orientation. Very soon, we see him become acquainted with a true expert in legal prescriptions: a defiantly independent young woman in stage one Parkinson's Disease.

This is the capable cast that lures us into rooting for them:
  • Jake Gyllenhaal ("Zodiak") is the ADD-afflicted super salesman who revels in the feeding frenzy initiated by the introduction of Viagra. Even though he is smart, he doesn't want to give his father the satisfaction of going to medical school... His girlfriend wisely asks, "How's that working out for you?"
  • Anne Hathaway ("Valentine's Day") has once again fearlessly embraced a demanding adult role that shows us how much she has grown. There comes a time when we feel her fatigue and frustration from too much help, and we really do care about her character and her bleak future...
  • Judy Greer ("American Dreamz" and lots of TV) is one of the gate-keepers who guards a successful doctor's office.
  • Hank Azaria ("Year One" but also TV, Broadway and voices for animated works) plays that successful doctor, who has reached the point where he questions his own motives and goals.
  • Oliver Platt ("Please Give") is our hero's frustrated boss, relentless mentor and tireless tail twister.
  • George Segal ("2012") is our hero's father, a doctor who wants a son to follow in his footsteps.
  • Jill Clayburgh ("Running With Scissors") is the matriarch of the family. She just wants them to be quiet long enough to eat their dinner. (Clayburgh died about the time this film was released.)
  • Josh Gad (Lots of TV) gives younger brothers a bad name.
We went into this screening with fairly low expectations, but were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the story and the performances. Director Edward Zwick ("Defiance") can add this one to his list of high-quality projects.