Movie Review: Love and Other Drugs

There are a number of things to like about Edward Zwick's Love and Other Drugs, so it seems churlish to quibble about the problems.

But those foibles are what keep Zwick's nervy blend of romantic comedy and drama from being a really good movie, instead of merely a good date destination. The problems aren't terminal, but they are persistent.

Zwick's film, which he and cowriter Marshall Herskovitz adapted with Charles Randolph from James Reidy's book, starts funny, gets funnier, then makes a turn to the serious. The laughs don't stop entirely, but the tone and the focus have changed in ways that deepen and strengthen the film. Yet Zwick's film can't quite make the leap to something even deeper - or funnier, for that matter.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, the eldest son and black sheep of an over-achieving Chicago family. Dad (George Segal) is a prominent medical school professor and doctor; his sister is a doctor. His brother is a multi-millionaire after inventing medical-record software (this is the early 1990s) and then selling his company. Mom is, well, Jill Clayburgh.

Jamie, however, has used his charm and his smile to chase women and take jobs that his parents obviously feel are beneath him. We first see him at a Best Buy-like electronics chain, where he's working when the film opens and from which he is fired by the end of the opening credits.

So Jamie goes to work for Pfizer, selling pharmaceuticals to doctors in Ohio, working for a more senior rep named Bruce (Oliver Platt). Selling Zithromax isn't a problem - but getting their drug, Zoloft, to compete with Prozac is more of a challenge.

The key, Bruce tells him, is getting one particularly popular general practitioner, Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria), to make the switch from prescribing Prozac. So Jamie ingratiates himself with Dr. Knight - but there's only so much he can do.

Still, while hanging with the good doctor, he meets a particularly attractive patient, Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) and, after a rough start, winds up jumping into bed with her. Indeed, sex with Maggie becomes a regular thing - and Jamie is drawn to her because she's quick-witted, mouthy, willing to call Jamie on his games - and she is as standoffish about commitment as he is.

She also has Parkinson's disease.

And that's the crux of this film.