One Way, Then Another 

Love and Other Drugs genre-jumps in search of a purpose.


Part sex romp, part industry exposé, part sickness weepie, part young-love story, Love and Other Drugs aims to contain multitudes, but rather than synthesizing these genres into something multifaceted but coherent, it instead flits awkwardly from one style to the next in a manner that feels desperately market-tested and ultimately unsatisfying.

The film, anonymously directed by veteran Edward Zwick (Glory, Blood Diamond), is a heavily fictionalized adaptation of former Pfizer sales rep Jamie Reidy's 2005 memoir Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.

Here, Jake Gyllenhaal is Jamie Randall, the handsome, charismatic, but directionless scion of a successful family — dad and sister are physicians, his younger brother has become a multimillionaire after his medical software company has gone public — who is biding his time selling stereo equipment and sweet-talking women into bed, much to parental disapproval.

Seeking some kind of career direction, Jamie uses his brother's industry connections to get into the sales-rep training program for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer — according to the film, the only entry-level job in the country that pays over $100,000.

An early montage take on Jamie's Pfizer training and his subsequent introduction to the unscrupulous byways of the profession by grizzled partner Bruce (Oliver Platt) suggests a fruitful direction, but instead the film takes a hard left after Jamie's rather skeevy "meet-cute" with Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), a loner artist and barista (and also, apparently, a screenwriter invention) who suffers from early-onset Parkinson's.

The formulaic love story that comes from this apparent mismatch seems designed to make the film's industry critique more palatable for multiplex audiences, but instead it subsumes it into a conventional romance broken up by the strategic deployment of the broad gross-out humor that all Hollywood films about or for young people now consider a requirement.

There's an interesting procedural film to be made about the workings of Big Pharma and the relationships between drug reps and physicians. But Love and Other Drugs isn't interested in that. Instead, the industry exposé speeds by — often in dialogue sputtered out as if Zwick were in a hurry to get to the next sex scene — and gets lost.

The revelations this film is most interested in concern not shady drug-industry practices but Gyllenhaal's rear and Hathaway's bosom, both of which are on surprisingly ample display.

Ultimately, Love and Other Drugs aims to be something like Up in the Air for twentysomethings. But despite boasting many times more bare skin, it has a fraction of the sex appeal. Hathaway — a terrific actress even in work that's not worthy of her (see the dreadful Valentine's Day) — is up to the challenge, clothes on or off, but Gyllenhaal struggles to get past — or, more importantly, beneath — his character's slick surfaces. By the end, after all the contortions and cowardice, Love and Other Drugs left me bored and annoyed at the opportunities wasted.

Now playing

Multiple locations

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.

Love and Other Drugs
Rated R · 113 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: Edward Zwick
Writer: Marshall Herskovitz and Charles Randolph
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Judy Greer, Brenna Roth, Gabriel Macht, Jaimie Alexander, George Segal and Katheryn Winnick

Now Playing

Love and Other Drugs is not showing in any theaters in the area.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • BlacKkKlansman

      Spike Lee pulls no punches with his triumphant true story of the black detective who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan
    • Memphis Film Prize 2018

      Ten local films compete for $10,000 in the 2018 Memphis Film Prize
    • Sorry To Bother You

      Boots Riley’s political satire aims to Make Movies Weird Again


Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Aaron James

Tiger Blue

Penny Hardaway: Hall of Famer?

News Blog

Horseshoe Tunica to Open Sports Betting Monday

News Blog

Memphians’ Favorite TDOT Signs

Fly On The Wall Blog

"Memphis Most" Promotion Showcases Parking Lot Under Interstate

News Blog

Memphis in May to Honor City of Memphis in 2019

Music Blog

Pure Memphis Music Series Announces Fall Lineup

News Blog

County to Host Free Active Shooter Training


More by Chris Herrington

  • Last Words

    In "Enough Said," James Gandolfini makes his last lead film role his best.
    • Sep 26, 2013
  • Masters of Sound

    New albums from two of Memphis’ most distinctive stylists.
    • Sep 19, 2013
  • Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone

    • Sep 19, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Fifty Shades Freed

    Feature length commercial for luxury goods or chilling glimpse into the post-human future?
    • Feb 16, 2018
  • Lean On Pete

    • May 16, 2018
  • Fifty Shades Darker

    America gets the boundary pushing lifestyle porn it deserves
    • Feb 16, 2017
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation