About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Love & Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs is a definite cut above most of the other dreary formulaic romantic comedies that have graced our screens in recent years. This one is striving to attain Jerry Maguire territory instead of Wedding Planner territory. If it doesn't ultimately achieve Jerry Maguire, it still has considerable virtues on display.

Let us start in the virtue department with the acting. I have always liked Jake Gyllenhal, but the opening scene here is revelatory because he looks for the first time like an actual adult in an adult role. This transition isn't an inevitable one; McCauley Culkin anyone? And there is energy and brio to the performance as well, vs the hangdog Donnie Darko thing he often defaults to. He is actually a leading man, and if he can hold on to that moving forward Incan anticipate some nice nights at the movies. His love interest is played by Anne Hathaway, and she too is making a nice transition which we have steadily seen in the years since Princess Diaries. However she may be topping out as this decade's Andie McDowell. Amy Adams may be higher ceiling.

However... the film started out as an adaptation of a memoir, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Riedy. And then they took that story and pretty much grafted on the entire romance angle. And the two stories don't have much to do with one another. The film Jamie Riedy could be in any occupation and still have the romance with the Anne Hathaway character. In Jerry Maguire, Jerry is an imperfect vessel for his ideas about sports representation, but at the heart of the movie he ends up almost by default living the "fewer clients" mantra that gets him fired. His relationship with Dorothy is driven by what's happening in his business life. He grows in multiple ways. In Love & Other Drugs, Jamie ends up in a different place at the end than at the beginning, but not in any integral way, or at least in an integral way that goes beyond the amount of change necessary to get the girl and have a happy ending. And I believed he wanted the girl, but didn't believe the career choice that he makes.

But ya know, all that being said if I held every movie up to the standard of whether or not it was another Jerry Maguire, there wouldn't be many movies worth liking.

So that aside, let's focus on the fact that we have two really good lead performances. We have some nice supporting work by Oliver Platt as Jamie's mentor on the Pfizer job (I wasn't thrilled with the quality of the casting up and down the list, though). We have a reasonably truthful look at what the drug sales business is about. We have a reasonably truthful look at what it's like to deal with Parkinson's. Anne Hathaway's dealing with it is a little more cutting to the core than let's say Susan Sarandon coughing and glowing in Stepmom, and there's a very good scene and some very harsh real-world advice given Jamie during set at an alternate convention for Parkinson's sufferers across the street from a drug sales megablast convention.

No, Love & Other Drugs doesn't live up to the depths of its aspirations. However, if every romantic comedy was as good as this one, I'd certainly go see a lot more of them, and two-thirds of the other movies playing at the multiplex this holiday weekend will likely be worse.

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