Colleen Claes

Colleen Claes
Chicago, Illinois, USA
January 08
Freelance Writer
I'm a freelance writer and blogger when I'm not working 9 to 5. I graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in film and screenwriting. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of media (usually film) and culture. I've contributed to as the Chicago Cult Classics Examiner and have been interviewed by USA Today for my film expertise. I write at a few other places (both for myself and other people), which you find below My Links.

Colleen Claes's Links

No links in this category.
NOVEMBER 29, 2010 6:41PM

'Love and Other Drugs' Feels Like a Cheap Sell

Rate: 2 Flag

I actually went into Love and Other Drugs with an open mind. Er, more of an open mind than I normally would with this sort of movie. After viewing the trailer, I didn’t think much of it, or even care about seeing it. But then I guess it was purely Andrew O’Hehir’s review on Salon – teased as “Gyllenhaal and Hathaway’s surprisingly good comedy” – that got me curious. Point being: I was open to it being good. Now having seen it, I should have known I couldn’t enjoy a film which, in a sentence, tries entirely too hard to be the next Jerry Maguire-meets-well, any movie where the girl of the boy-meets-girl has a terminal illness. I wish it didn’t have to be that frank, but it is.

Starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall, thirtysomething), I expected it to be a romantic comedy that proved a little more exceptional than the others. But from what I saw, this doesn’t have the makings of a classic or a “generation definer.” The plot: Set in 1996, Jamie Randall (Gylleenhaal) is a rising Pfizer pharmaceutical sales rep who uses his “way” with women to help him rep Zoloft in doctor’s offices when he meets Maggie (Hathaway) in one said doctor’s office. The very first thing we learn about Maggie is that she has onset Parkinson’s. In short – she hates him, he lusts after her, they have sex, they try to keep having sex without attachment, they fail, they fall in love. What follows are mostly bad humming music as soundtrack, montages, cheap jokes, sex, nudity, tears, and more montages.  Oh, and also, his gross younger brother comes to live with him and is poised as “comic relief,” which makes for more awkward and drawn-out than comical scenes.

While most of the big reviews I read were less than favorable, they all seem to find some kind of “bright side” for the movie: Ebert thinks Zwick did the best he could with a bad script; most, including New York Times’ A.O. Scott, believe Hathaway did more with the character than the script called for; and Variety‘s Justin Chang says it sorta kinda works “if one can get past the calculation inherent in the drug-pushing-boy-meets-disease-stricken-girl setup.”

Maybe they’re all just a little bit more optimistic than I am, but I can’t even give the film that much credit. My bright side? Uh…Judy Greer was pretty funny? (As a receptionist Gylleenhaal seduced and then left in the dust.) And…honestly, not much else is coming to mind. Since the movie is so blunt, I feel no need to use pretty words or phrasing here: Love and Other Drugs is a bi-polar movie that can’t decide if it’s about casual sex, the evils of the pharmaceutical sales industry, or Parkinson’s. Can all of these be combined into one movie? Sure! If done correctly (see: not the way it was done here.) This film makes me wish there was another word not as overused as “formulaic,” but it really fits in this instance.

There’s no real development or investment in any of the characters. This is a true shame, honestly, given the two wonderful actors at the film’s disposal. Both the main characters feel conflicted because they have their own set of commitment issues. “Commitment issues” is just a phrase slapped onto the movie – not a lot of explanation or history required, just take it as it is. They have trouble committing but then they try to commit to one another. The whole story feels like one big cheap sell for the tearjerker ending (the ending that aches to be the next Jerry Maguire-scale ending), which then makes the Parkinson’s disease element feel more insulting and tasteless – as if it was just thrown into the pot for one big grand finale tasting.

I think Love and Others Drugs‘ biggest downfall is that it doesn’t live up to its own image of itself. It’s not as sexy, not as daring, certainly not as funny, and not as moving and deep as it seems to think it is. You know the one thing I took away from this movie? Sex. Lots and lots of sex. Everywhere sex. (And mostly in montages also.) Oh, and the throwing around of the word “pussy” by men whenever the film needed that extra oomph of “edginess.” All of that nudity and sexuality, and for what? Two undeveloped characters and a poorly thought-out story. No, it does not feel liberating or refreshing. I know it tried really hard, but in the end, Love and Other Drugs isn’t just a film about the complications of supposedly empty sex; it is empty sex.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
While I appreciate your detailed and cerebral appraisal of this film, I just have to say (subjectively), surely not objectively...that hubby and I saw it on Saturday ( a cheap matinee) so already in the mood for cheap...and we both liked it a lot. Could be that we both enjoy Anne and Jake so much in the first place and supporting characters were well cast and lent some real humor to an otherwise, dreary plot line.

Be what may, we enjoyed the movie mutually...I, especially smug over the several nude scenes of Jake's fine back side (better than Anne's, which they hid throughout the film, except one scene where she was in her black French bikini's with sheer black panty hose (ugh), leaving me with a broad smile on my face for most of the movie...guess I don't get out much!

All in all, we walked out happy, holding hands, went for a quick Margarita at one of our favorite local pubs (close to home), where they serve pint size top shelf Margies, guaranteed to keep the already brimming smile plastered to your face...and then some.

It's quirky, romantic, silly, lacking some...and definitely sexy in some of their alluring scenes and worth a look, if you're in the mood for light weight, cheap entertainment. That was just what we needed Saturday after watching it snow for 3 days straight.
havent seen it yet, but from your review it sounds like it tries to be a romcom that appeals to men. oops, theres your problem right there. maybe it would have worked out better with nora ephron directing :p