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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer
DIRECTED BY
Edward Zwick
SCREENPLAY
Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Jamie Reidy (Book)
MPAA RATING
Rated R
RUNNING TIME
113 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
20th Century Fox
DVD EXTRAS
NA
 "Love and Other Drugs" Review 
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There is a brilliant, insightful and deeply meaningful film wanting to arise out of the ashes of Love and Other Drugs, an unabashedly R-rated romantic drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie, a med school drop out who ends up in as a Viagra rep with all its ups and downs (pun intended), a field for which he is abundantly suited.

Jamie stumbles into, on top of and all around with Maggie (Hathaway), a 26-year-old horn dog herself with a not so promising diagnosis and, like Jamie, a complete lack of desire for anything resembling long-term commitment.

Yep, we know where this one's going.

The word "naked" is a word that could easily apply to this Edward Zwick directed flick, yet it's far more than the nakedness you're likely to hear the most about. Yes, it's true that both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway, who were much more awkwardly coupled in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, show ample amounts of flesh here, especially in the early parts of the film as their budding romance experiences its initial flashes of physical and sexual attraction. Yet, what is so transforming here is the way that Zwick, Gyllenhaal and Hathaway manage to transcend the physical nudity and spiral into an emotional nakedness that feels just as exposing and intimate and passionate as the nudity that is physical. The transition is remarkably and immensely convincing.

The fate of a film such as Love and Other Drugs rests almost solely on the weight of its romantic duo, and with Hathaway and Gyllenhaal the film has managed to strike a goldmine. While the film lacks a certain emotional heft that might have turned it into a Love Story type film, these two performers have a comfortable, likable chemistry that instantly makes you believe they really could be a couple. The passion between Jamie and Maggie feels genuine, yet it feels equally as genuine as these two young adults begin to dance around their unexpectedly deepening intimacy, something neither would have wanted and, perhaps, neither would have believed themselves capable of achieving.

Love and Other Drugs starts off quite wonderfully, creating the world in which Jamie lives guided by his boss (Oliver Platt) and his union with an influential physician (Hank Azaria), both partnerships that allow him to become an increasingly successful drug rep and, as well, to bring some of the well publicized drug industry tricks to the film's forefront with a certain devilish delight. When he meets Maggie, who is experiencing early stage Parkinson's Disease, he is immediately struck by the fact that she is at least as much a player as he is and quite possibly moreso. Watching their union grow is the life blood of the film.

The recently deceased Jill Clayburgh and George Segal are a delight as Jamie's parents, while Josh Gad is a scene-stealer as his freaking hilarious brother. Judy Greer shows up and is her usual awesome self.

It's seldom that Hollywood serves up an intelligent, truly adult romantic comedy, or more appropriately "dramedy." While Zwick and his writing team don't quite nail the balance in dealing with Maggie's illness, Love and Other Drugs is an entertaining, passionate and romantic comic alternative for adult seeking an escape from the world of Hogwarts and all things Harry Potter this Thanksgiving weekend.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
    The Official Rating Guideline
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