Sunday, July 10, 2011

Love and Other Drugs (Edward Zwick, 2010) -- C+

Love and Other Drugs flirts with similarly middlebrow terrain as Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, their lightly, almost evaporating satirical interests actually just backdrops to attractive people fucking. Director Edward Zwick believes amping up the nudity quotient makes his film sexier and more adult, which isn't necessarily true, though getting more than a few passing glances at the bods of co-stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't hurt the film's watchability. Nevertheless - for a film deliberately set during 1990's pharmaceutical battles (Gyllenhaal plays a go-getter drug rep), very little of Zwick's focus is on health care, much less any tangible argument or discourse. Rather, the film's narrative primarily concerns Hathaway's early stages of Parkinson's disease, and each character grappling with their inadequacies, intimacy fears, and narcissism. Though all of the material more or less plays well, there are significant focus issues in the film's second half, seemingly uncertain where its energy needs to go. Health care satire? Adept romantic dramedy? Whackier screwball comedy? All and none, the breaking point comes when Gyllenhall's character, having taken Viagra, can't lose a hard-on, and goes to the hospital for assistance. It's part-and-parcel for Zwick's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, especially distasteful and sour since it follows a scene that allows Hathaway to work her dramatic (more like histrionic) acting chops. Lacking comedic and thematic fluidity, the functional scenes never congeal into any particularly resonant form.

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