Love and Other Drugs is your generic romantic comedy that’s made for R-rated audiences instead of the PG-13 crowd. Does that make it any better? I don’t think so. It still contains practically all of the clichés you’d expect from the genre, yet it misses a lot of the humor that tamer flicks have had. If it would have ramped up the humor with the rating, maybe it would have worked, but I didn’t see where the “funny” was supposed to be coming from.
Or maybe it needed to focus on one of the two stories it features instead of trying to juggle both of them. In the first story we’re introduced to, there’s a charming man (Jake Gyllenhaal) named Jamie who gets fired from his job as an electronics salesman, so he goes to work for his brother selling drugs to doctors, essentially becoming a door-to-door salesman. It’s just that the clients can pay more and they’re also harder to sell to. Jamie had no problem getting the average consumer to buy a radio or television, but getting a doctor to by his company’s pharmaceuticals instead of a competitor’s proves to be fairly difficult.
The second story involves a woman. One day, while job shadowing one doctor, he comes across a woman who has Parkinson’s disease named Maggie (Anne Hathaway). After peeking in during a breast examination, she tracks him down at his car and begins to beat on him with her purse. He, being the charmer that he is, asks her for coffee. She ends up leaving, middle finger raised to the sky. He manages to get her number through unconventional — and likely illegal — methods, and after much pestering, she agrees to go to coffee. They begin a friends-with-benefits relationship.
You’ve probably already figured out where this is heading. No, there aren’t really any surprises with Love and Other Drugs. The only difference is that characters are allowed to swear at their leisure and both of the leads are frequently without their clothing. This works kind of like how new paint doesn’t really improve a car with a missing engine. In this case, the engine is the “comedy” part. Rom-coms don’t work without being funny. Love and Other Drugs simply wasn’t funny.
Maybe I just missed the jokes, but I didn’t hear many. There are a couple, but not enough to sustain an entire film. When the jokes aren’t there, the conventions that populate the vast majority of romantic comedies become even more apparent. As someone who often doesn’t mind them, this film aggravated me because of how bored I was. Make me laugh, and I’ll forgive a lot of flaws. Bore me, especially if you’re supposed to be a comedy, and I’m not going to have a good time. Laughter elevates the mood, after all.
But not making me laugh wasn’t the sole problem with Love and Other Drugs. The plot was the other major factor in me not having a lot of fun. There’s a balancing act attempted here. On one side, we have rival drug companies going after one another, attempting to gain favor with the doctors all around. On the other, we have this romance that starts off less a romance and more of a sex-with-random-insults type of deal.
This is a tough thing to balance, and this isn’t a film that was able to do it well. Any time I started to get involved with one story, we’d cut to the other. It was very apparent how it was put together, and we only rarely transitioned well from one story to the other. It was jarring and took me out of the story every time it happened. If the film wanted me to care, it was going the wrong way about it.
The leads are good enough, although this isn’t the type of film that an actor would put on his/her resume and during a job interview point and say “that’s the role I want you to watch and see the incredible amount of depth to my performance.” And if it were to be included on a resume, it would be to say “I look good. Look at how good I look without my clothes.” They both have energy, though, especially from Hathaway, who carries more of the film than she really needed to.
By this point, you’re probably wondering if I have anything really nice to say about this film. “The two leads have energy” isn’t exactly something one could steal without context and put it on the front of the DVD cover, now is it? Well, unfortunately, I have tried to come up with something, but I couldn’t. There’s nothing to really like about this from where I’m coming from. Maybe someone else will enjoy the humor which I’ve been told there is, and if that’s the case, good on them. I wasn’t able to find any, and that means that other flaws like the poorly balanced plot and the abundance of clichés were too apparent to ignore.
Love and Other Drugs is an R-rated romantic comedy. That’s the best description that I can give of it in one sentence. It has profanity and nudity you might not see in most rom-coms, but apart from those two elements, everything else is the same — and sometimes worse. It’s less funny than a lot of lower-rated films, and it uses more clichés than some of those movies as well. It’s sometimes like watching a how-to guide of how to make a romantic comedy, while other times, it comes across like a poorly crafted film about company rivalry. I can’t recommend this film to the majority, but if you just adore romantic comedy clichés and are looking for edgier affair, this might be for you.