Love is a Drug
Here's a bit of an abnormality a romantic comedy which delivers both romance and comedy, two elements so often lacking in movies labelled romantic comedies. It makes "Love and Other Drugs" a surprising pleasure delivering some huge laughs but never ignoring the romantic drama which interweaves with all the fun. It also features two great performances from two actors which also raise it to be something special. Those two actors are Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway who are not only comfortable in their own skin but also being intimate with each other which makes the tenderness and the fun of romance come to life.
After being fired from his job selling electronics Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal - Zodiac) ends up entering the competitive world of Pharmaceutical sales where under the mentorship of Bruce Winston (Oliver Platt) hits the road to sell Pfizer drugs to doctors. It is whilst trying to clinch a deal with Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria) he meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway - Alice in Wonderland) who despite suffering from early onset Parkinson's is fiercely independent and doesn't want commitment although happy to have sex with Jamie frequently. With Pfizer launching Viagra Jamie's career goes stratospheric as he gets sale after sale but the complexity of his relationship with Maggie continues to provide problems.
Whilst the humour and romantic drama work hand in hand to describe "Love and Other Drugs" is best to sort of separate them. So we have this romance, this relationship which starts as nothing more than being friends with benefits but then Jamie drops the L-bomb, a hilarious scene in itself. But of course this relationship has complications and that gives it depth because on one hand we have Maggie who knows she will never be cured and doesn't want to be a burden on anyone whilst Jamie has always felt the need to compete to be the best and so is critical of himself. It unsurprisingly leads to romantic issues which you could say is a cliche but it is nicely played out as both Jamie and Maggie have to deal with the blocks they have put up about relationships and commitment.
Now I have already said that this romantic side is interlaced with humour and surprisingly when I say much of that comes from scenes featuring a naked Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. The thing is that the humour which often focuses on their sexual encounters doesn't feel forced even when they decide to video themselves having sex and the reason is because Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal are so natural together. Both Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal look comfortable in their own skin in the various sex scenes and so when something amusing happens it feels just as natural, a romantic mishap such as when Maggie shows up at Jamie's apartment to undo her coat to reveal she is totally naked only to find Jamie's brother Josh is on the couch.
But that leads me to the other side of the movie and that is the comedy which often revolves around sex, be it an early scene where Jamie is banging the boss's girlfriend on a speaker at the electronics store or a huge mishap after he takes Viagra. Yes that does mean that "Love and Other Drugs" is full of sexual humour with countless cock and tit jokes but whilst there is an element of being juvenile some of these gags are brilliantly worked. And much of the reason for these gags working is the brilliant Josh Gad who plays Julian's brother and lets just say a certain scene involving the sex tape will have you in hysterics, bringing every element of the movie together in one triumphant joke.
What this all boils down to is that "Love and Other Drugs" ends up a real pleasure because unlike so many romantic comedies it does deliver both romance and comedy. But it is also the performances from Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal who have such a naturalness that even though certain aspects of "Love and Other Drugs" is pure cliche they make it work.