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'Love and Other Drugs' deeper than typical romantic comedy

Nov. 30, 2010

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Associated Press
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway star in "Love and Other Drugs" as Jaime Randall and Maggie Murdock, a pharmaceutical salesman and a patient with Parkinson's disease.

By John D. Elizondo
Contributor

"Love and Other Drugs" looked to be a movie that one can easily determine what the plot is without seeing the movie, yet the overall message of the movie is completely unexpected.

The movie focuses on Jamie Randall, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who is a going through life without motivation and living the great life of a smooth-talking bachelor in the mid-1990s.

With help from his brother, Randall enters the competitive world of pharmaceutical sales, in which he sells Zoloft and other drugs for Pfizer.

He starts selling in the Ohio market with his sales associate Bruce, played by Oliver Platt. Bruce plays a mentor role for Jamie and encourages him to work his way up in the company.

Randall's charismatic demeanor and the success of working for Pfizer help him befriend doctors, cozy up to receptionists and sell his drugs all while trying to keep up with rival Trey Hannigan, who sells the competing brand, Prozac.

All is working out for Randall until one day when he shadows Dr. Stan Knight, played by Hank Azaria, at his workplace and meets one of Knight's patients -- Maggie Murdock, played by Anne Hathaway. Randall happens to glimpse Murdock's breast during her doctor's visit, thus leading to a heated exchange out in the parking lot.

Sly talker that he is, Randall convinces Murdock that they should go out sometime, and then one thing leads to another and eventually the two end up tangled in the sheets for numerous scenes.

As the couple gets closer over the course of the movie Randall learns that Murdock is in stage one of Parkinson's disease. This gives a new tone to what may have seemed as a typical romantic comedy. The introduction to Murdock's Parkinson's and the way Hathaway portrays the character give the movie more depth than expected.

The movie gives off good vibes and its share of goofiness, but the scenes in which the Parkinson's became the main reason for conflict made this movie worthwhile.

At a convention in Chicago, an older gentleman has a serious and very real moment with Jamie regarding Murdock's Parkinson's. This scene showed what this movie could have been at its best without the extra components that cluttered the most of the movie.

There was a rather amusing, but ill-placed, pharmaceutical wars montage when the movie was starting to go in the right direction. Plus the movie introduced the unnecessary addition of Randall's brother into the plot. Josh, played by Josh Gad, seemed too Jonah Hill for me. Although his jokes and actions were funny, they were very inappropriate for this film.

Other running gags provided the laughter for this movie, but as it progressed the movie became more serious and sophisticated.

The lack of story and growing development of Jamie makes it feel as though most of the movie is not needed, but the tender scenes between Randall and Murdock make the movie interesting enough.

Grade: B-