You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Love and Other Drugs’ category.

34. Love and Other Drugs

John eloquently reviewed the film, which we saw together in theaters.  I believe afterward when I thanked him for inviting me, he replied that I was the only person he could think of who would be interested in the film.  Thanks!  Actually, now that I think about it, we might have seen a movie at E St first.  Anyway, I mostly agree with John here, you’ll note he said he could think of a couple dozen movies from the year he’d recommend first, which is pretty much where I place it.

33. Made in Dagenham

Another movie John got to.  And again, I pretty much agree with what he says about the movie and the acting performances.  I think the film had trouble with awards traction because people who would tend to be interested by the concept of a film about female auto workers in 1960s England striking for equal pay probably wouldn’t be expecting a film with a tone quite as light as this one takes.  Which is  a shame, as I think it is a movie a bunch of people could enjoy, so maybe with some nominations on this side of the pond it could have found a wider audience.  Bob Hoskins and Rosamund Pike were also pretty fun in the film.

32. Letters to Juliet

Saw this one on a plane.  It is the one where Amanda Seyfried goes to Verona with her too-busy fiance, Gael Garcia Bernal.  There’s a wall there where people letters written to Shakespeare’s Juliet.  Every day, some ladies in the town collect the letters and respond from Juliet.  For whatever reason, Seyfried happens upon them and helps them respond, and her response to one brings an elderly lady (Vanessa Redgrave) and her handsome British son (Christopher Egan) out to Verona and then on a hunt for Redgrave’s long lost love.  I think the film will deliver exactly what you think it will.

31. Cairo Time

I can’t really figure out a way to describe Cairo Time without making it sound like one of those movies John loves and the rest of us hate.  The plot is very slight: basically Patricia Clarkson comes to Cairo to visit her diplomat husband, who gets busy with an emergency, so she’s squired around town for a few days by her husband’s friend (Alexander Siddig), and within the few days they begin to develop feelings for each other.  Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’d be content watching Patricia Clarkson in nearly anything.

30. 127 Hours

The four Grouches managed to all get together to see the film, you can see our thoughts here.  The film came up lots in our awards talk, of course.  It was actually our choice for Spirits Awards Best Picture, thanks to yours truly, but that was more due to a weak slate of films than anything else.  By the way, guess how many Oscar nominations the film received.  Nope, too low!  127 Hours received six Oscar nominations: Picture, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Score, and Song (winning none of them).  Still not entirely certain how that happened.  I mean, the film was decent, but I think it wouldn’t take you more than a minute or two to build a case that it shouldn’t have received anything but an acting nomination (and while Franco was great, you could certainly make the case for Gosling over him).

29. Ip Man

Streamed this at my brother’s place.  Contrary to what the description might seem to say, it is about the story of Bruce Lee’s teacher, it does not star Bruce Lee’s teacher.  Starring Donnie Yen, Ip Man is a martial arts movie kinda based on real life.  It tells the story of, well, Yip Man, the bestest martial arts master around.  Like most leads in films of this ilk, he doesn’t like to fight until really really pressed, but then he whips butt like nobody’s business.  The film gets a little weird in the second act, which takes places during Japan’s occupation of China, and a lot of interesting facts seem to be crammed in via text after the last shot.

28. The Four-Faced Liar

A New York indie relationship rom-dram, but this one actually seems to work.  Certainly not deserving of its low imdb score, which, I wonder, may be influenced by the fact that one of the characters ends up torn between a hetero relationship and a lesbian one.  Or maybe you just have to be in a certain sort of mood to watch the film, I dunno.  The movie is populated by people without much of a filmography, but I think that rawness comes into play here.  Call it more “natural” or “realistic”, if you’d like, I think it allows for a greater focus on the characters.

27. A Prophet

Actually nominated for an Oscar a year back, but as with many Foreign Oscar nominees, wasn’t really available until 2010, so that’s where I’m counting it.  A lot of people really really liked this movie.  Passionately so.  Which I’m not sure I entirely get, though it was very good.  A lot of praise went to newcomer Tahar Rahim, who plays a young inmate at a prison with sharp lines drawn between the Corsican and Arab inmates.  He was solid, but I was more intrigued by Niels Arestrup, a fellow inmate who is the don of the Corsican gang.  The ending felt a bit rushed to me, odd in a movie that was so long.

26. Get Him to the Greek

I get the feeling Get Him to the Greek is viewed as something of a disappointment.  I’m not entirely certain why.  The film grossed pretty much the same as Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  And while Russell Brand was great as Aldous Snow in that one, how many people thought the character would hold up in much larger doses?  The breakout performer from the film, oddly enough, was P. Diddy, who played a delightfully bizarre character.  Rose Byrne was pretty funny, a side of her I hadn’t seen but was glad to.  And, as in most Apatow joints, there were a ton of fun cameos.

25. Nice Guy Johnny

Nice Guy Johnny provides an interesting case study on how to make and distribute a film.  The movie was shot on the most minuscule of budgets in something like a week and a half.  And it didn’t have a release in theaters, instead making its VOD and DVD release on the same day.  Of course, it is a lot easier to make all that happen when you have a film written, directed, and produced by Edward Burns.  In the film, Burns takes a supporting role as a lady-killer who ends up hosting his nephew for the weekend at a summer house.  Matt Bush (Adventureland) takes on the titular role as, well, a nice guy.  His passion is his late night radio sports talk show he hosts, but his fiancee wants him to settle down and find a real job.  So he goes back home for the weekend to stay with family and take an important interview she arranged.  But during the weekend he meets a lovely free spirit of a girl (Kerry Bishe) who changes the way he sees things.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Love and Other Drugs is a mess. Tonal shifts are swift and severe. Characterizations are thin and off-putting. The line between decency and ickiness gets thoroughly trampled. Time drags.

But there’s just something about it that clicks. I guess the story works just enough and the emotional notes connect just enough to keep it hanging around in my head. It’s usually light – except when it abruptly isn’t – but that doesn’t prevent it from thematically punching above its weight.

This is of course the Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal get naked romantic comedy. And the Parkinson’s movie. And the Viagra movie. And the movie that takes on Big Pharma. (You can see some of the problem here.)

As Hathaway and Gyllenhaal (Maggie and Jamie, respectively) court, she repeatedly tries to push him away due to her illness. Meanwhile, he climbs the corporate ladder at Pfizer as Viagra hits the market while pausing his horndog lifestyle as he pursues her.

Oddly enough, I do not share the concerns I see cited most often with this film. Let’s discuss.

One, that giving Hathaway’s character Parkinson’s is unnecessarily manipulative. I say the biggest issue is that she’s already a classic manic pixie dream girl and giving her Parkinson’s puts her too far over the top. The short shrift the disease gets in the film as it races through a dozen other plot points and themes is a problem because its development remains too superficial. A better romantic comedy is waiting to be made to adeptly explore the issue, but Drugs only scratches the surface.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occasionally connect. I’d say there are a good number of small moments with resonance and subtle power.

Manic pixie dream... I forget the rest

Others say the film is too preachy or too obvious with the indictments of the healthcare system it tries to make. Maybe because it was preaching to the choir with me, the various points it tries to make didn’t strike me as that egregious. The issue isn’t that a doctor wearily confides to Jamie that the decked is stacked against him providing quality care to his patients, it’s that the doctor never shows that kind of contemplation at any other part of the movie.

It’s not that Maggie makes comments about drug affordability as she leads a group of seniors on a bus trip to Canada to buy their medications, it’s that by doing so she becomes an increasingly fictional character. It’s not that Jamie’s boss has an outburst about the company screwing him over, but that the film immediately cuts away and that plot thread and theme are never picked up again.

Finally, the plot launches when Jamie poses as a medical intern while trying to sell a doctor Pfizer products. Maggie is the patient and she whips out her breast during the exam. Naturally this is a huge invasion of privacy and probably violates a dozen ethics rules. Apparently this has ruined the film for some people the offenses are so grievous. I think the film does enough to establish the doctor is a sleazebag that I don’t mind.

But shouldn’t a larger problem be that Maggie, once discovering what Jamie did, gets over her anger in about 90 seconds and soon after invites him into her bed (or kitchen floor, as it were)? Once again, her character just gets less believable.

And the complaints that the character of Jamie’s brother was useless? Chill out.

Which all is to say that I’m somewhat conflicted. I found it mildly amusing and adequately emotionally effective. As this winter’s film crop moves onto DVD I could probably recommend two dozen other movies over Love and Other Drugs. But should you decide to spend the time with a naked Hathaway and Gyllenhaal, it wouldn’t really be a waste.

Awards buzz never really materialized (Gyllenhaal and Hathaway did both pick up Golden Globe nods, however) but Hathaway still punched her ticket to the big show by hosting the damn thing.

[ed. note: Apologies for the delay in posting this QotW.  My computer’s hard drive crashed last week (for the second time this year), so our responses may be slightly out of date.  This question went out before TIFF and Venice.  Hopefully we’ll get back on schedule soon.]

This week’s installment: What yet-to-be-released potential Oscar contender or contenders are you most looking forward to seeing?


I had been getting excited for this fall, but when I went to check the list of suspected contenders at the usual awards sites, well, yikes. I mean, did you know there’s a period piece this winter about King George IV’s speech impediment and how he overcame it? Lord.

For now the prognosticators can play it safe with the likes of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. (How do you go from pulsating Mumbai to a whole movie where a guy is just stuck under a rock? It sounds like a snoozefest.) But as time goes on some of these pictures that have awards season written all over them will fall by the wayside and some interesting stuff will take their places. Meanwhile, the one I’m most looking forward to is Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky has a terrific track record and this one is a psychological thriller with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Okay, so it’s set in the world of ballet, but otherwise it couldn’t sound more exciting.

I’m also looking forward to True Grit. An interesting string of westerns have come out in recent years and the Coens’ take on any genre is something to anticipate. I can totally see Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin in a western, but I’m interested to see what Matt Damon will do.

Finally, I have Another Year and Blue Valentine pegged as this year’s films I will love that the rest of the Grouches hate.


In case anyone out there would like a summary of the very rough Oscar picture, I though In Contention did a nice job recently.

I dunno, John.  Sure, The King’s Speech is Oscar-baity as all get out.  But it was directed by the guy who did The Damned United and features a pretty fun cast, including Colin Firth in the lead.

You definitely stole one from me, though.  Sure, Portman and Kunis are ridiculously attractive, but I tend to have extremely visceral reactions to Aronofsky’s work (well, The Wrestler was a little more muted, I suppose).  Similarly, the pairing of Knightley and Mulligan has me intrigued for Never Let Me Go.

There’s also a few films being bandied about now for the Oscar race that I’m not yet convinced will make an impact.  If The Tourist actually makes a play, you are looking at a film with Jolie, Depp, and Paul Bettany directed by the guy who did The Lives of Others and written by guys who wrote Gosford Park, The Young Victoria, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Usual Suspects.  And you may have recently seen the trailer for Love and Other Drugs.  I haven’t loved the few Ed Zwick movies I’ve seen, but I was completely sold on the trailer.

But if I had to name one film, it’d be The Social Network.  In Jesse Eisenberg, it has the star of my favorite 2009 film.  Rooney Mara seems on the verge of a breakout.  While I haven’t loved David Fincher’s films, I’ve certainly liked them.  Plus he did the video for Englishman in New York!  But, of course, the main reason I’m most looking forward to the film is because it was written by Aaron Sorkin.

February 2020
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