Love & Other Drugs
starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht, Judy Greer and George Segal
screenplay by Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz
directed by Edward Zwick
Based on the book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy Love & Other Drugsis a love story woven into a story about the debut of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (by Pfizer Corporation) in the late 1990s. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Randall, a medical school dropout-turned-pharmaceutical salesman. The introduction and instant popularity of the ‘sex drug’ Viagra quickly makes him rich. And it’s no coincidence that he uses his good looks and charm to peddle his samples like ... well, like a pimp. His devotion to his work and the pursuit of money is complicated when he falls in love with irresistible vixen Maggie (Anne Hathaway) who also happens to suffer from early onset Parkinson’s disease. There’s lots of sex and nudity in this film. If you like Anne Hathaway you get to see lots of her. For a long time I thought the sex was just gratuitous and I wondered what use Maggie had in the story. Or, for that matter, Jamie’s younger brother Josh (played by Josh Gad), a young dotcom millionaire separated from his wife and temporarily sleeping on his younger brother’s couch. He’s an annoying and probably useless character whose only function is to be a comedian. The sex isn’t simply gratuitous. It is used to further the story. Was it a love story, like Eric Segal’s famousLove Story, about the passion between a healthy young man and a terminally ill but voluptuous young woman? Or, was it a dramatization of the debut of Viagra with a social commentary about the medical business in America and the place of sex in the culture? It was a combination. I think the movie could have been two separate films entirely.
Everybody needs somebody to take care of them.
Personally, I don’t think highly of Viagra or the exaggerated place of sex in contemporary American culture. Sex is important, but it’s not that important. And isn’t sexual frustration pretty normal anyway? Am I right or wrong? Get outta here! It’s hard to tell about sex because one’s views on the matter are apt to vary wildly depending (on how much one is getting, most likely). So being coolly objective about is a tall order indeed. Certainly there’s little doubt that the medical business in Americais an obscene and immoral abomination. Capitalist medicine! God save me! I’ll take socialized medicine hands down, any day.
Our first encounter with Maggie still bothers me. She visits her doctor (Hank Azaria) for prescription renewals and then rattles off all the drugs she is taking for her Parkinson’s. It’s a lot. I imagine it would cost a person in Americaa couple thousand dollars a month. We all know the problems the U.S.has with health insurance and health care. I kept wondering, “Who pays for all this?” or, “How does she pay for all this?” Even with socialized health insurance in Canada and Japan I still pay a pretty penny every year for my own meds and I don’t take nearly as many as Maggie rattled off.
On another personal note, I do not understand why Parkinson’s was selected as the chronic condition of the vixen girlfriend. Is it a disease of the moment in America? A current fad disease? Or, is it because the physical symptoms are so visible that they are simply more dramatic? I think diabetes, cancer or epilepsy are all good candidates - and, of course, I side with the diabetes - but their effects are not as visible and therefore less dramatic (unless one is having a seizure).
The big lesson here: everybody needs somebody to take care of them.