LOVE & OTHER DRUGS Review

What you expect going into 'Love & Other Drugs' isn't exactly what you get. I expected somewhat of an off-beat quirky indie comedy about the emphasis on a society where love matters little as long as you are getting laid. I thought the touch of Gyllenhaal's character being a drug rep that gets his biggest boost of sales from Viagra was a nice touch in the script and supplied a clever name for the film. What we are actually in for though is a romantic comedy dressed in indie garb with two very credible and able actors at the lead of this R-rated picture. Director Zwick, who usually takes on big action oriented period pieces such as 'The Last Samurai' and 'Defiance' among his more recent endeavors, seems mostly at home in this soft and simple story of two people who hate love falling into it for the first time. While the story is a strong point it seems to take three very different strides as it runs the course of the film. The first act is one of introduction, obviously, moreso to Jamie Randall who's memoir the book is based on. It begins focusing completely on this young hotshot who goes through women as if they are prizes to be claimed and passed on. He is in the fast lane, working for the bug leagues. The opening scenes in which Gyllenhaal solidifies his character as a charmer in a second rate electronics store is pure fun and demonstrates the identity of the lead character immediately. As we see Jamies luck and casualty with which he passes of women we know that at some point Anne Hathaway is going to show up and shift his entire thought process about love to the one he has tried to escape his entire life, and so she does. And this is fine, we expect it to happen, but more truthfully, we want it to. We need to see this guy make a change in his life. We yearn for his character to evolve and he does so in the most natural and understanding of ways and it is really a testament to how well Mr. Gyllenhaal is able to make this guy who might be considered a tool in reality to come off as such a genuine guy who we'd rather be friends with than call names. In that second act, Hathaway gets to show off more of her serious acting skills as well, her Maggie is the perfect counterpart for Jamie. They are both only looking to have a good time and have no idea how to handle things when feelings become more than just sex-related. With such a dilemma, we can guess where this movie might go in its final half hour, but what it doesn't do is what earns it an above average rating. It turns from a conventional romance where something bad happens just to be overcome shortly before the credits roll into a film where serious issues must be considered and feelings hurt before realizations can be made, decisions of what is worth more and it is extremely emotional and touching. Played by anyone else, the final few scenes could have been the most cliche and sappy of endings, but these two are able to make you feel the pain and the love between them. They let you know its real, and not just a happy Hollywood ending. They don't necessarily always give us what we ask for, but instead what we deserve, what we didn't know we wanted until it was served to us in a great package like this film. It is funny, intriguing, beautiful and whisks by at a lovely pace. You won't check the time, you almost don't want to see the story conclude, instead you want to watch these interesting people's lives forever. Mission accomplished.