While I don't have anything against Jake Gyllenhaal nor do I think he gives a bad performance in "Love and Other Drugs", the one thing that I kept thinking during the running time of the film was that this really could have been a John Cusack film. Maybe it's just me. That said, "Love and Other Drugs" stars Gyllenhaal as Jamie, a young man who finds his way into medical sales - specifically for Pfizer during their launch of Viagara. In the midst of making a sale to Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria), he runs across one of the doctor's patients, Maggie (Anne Hathaway), and despite some initial anger, the two find there's something of a spark between them.
However, Maggie suffers from early onset Parkinsons, and has walled herself off. Still, with considerable determination, Jamie makes progress and the two start a passionate relationship. Having worked together before, one of the reasons why this movie works as well as it does is the believability of Hathaway and Gyllenhaal, who have a chemistry that's comfortable and easy. As a result, whether comedic or dramatic - and the movie has doses of both - the two feel like a believable couple and do have a warmth during the romantic scenes (and the movie is both not shy and "R" for a reason.)
In terms of the comedic, the movie introduces Jamie's brother, a nerdy, awkward success named Josh (Josh Gad). While Gad's comedic timing and delivery results in some decent laughs, the movie never really figures out entirely what to do with the character (or better yet, how really to integrate him) aside from trotting him out for the occasional comedic relief. The Hathaway and Gyllenhaal characters have their sweet, amusing moments, but the Gad character feels like the movie tries to throw "Napoleon Dynamite" (and Gad is sort of like a cross between Jack Black and "Napoleon") into the middle of a romantic dramedy.
The movie's exploration of the medical industry and drug sales reps feels like more of an overview ("Scrubs" did a good job with a couple of episodes revolving around sales reps), but it feels like a developed enough B story to fill out the running time. The key story with the couple is very well-handled by director Edward Zwick ("Glory"), as he avoids the easy choice to turn the picture into a manipulative weeper and instead goes down a naturalistic, sometimes heartbreaking exploration of what this couple faces. There are light bits throughout the picture, but it's to the movie's credit that it finds appropriate and genuine moments of lightness.
The two leads are compelling and certainly deliver terrific performances, especially Hathaway. Supporting performances are fine, but not as memorable, with Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt delivering fine efforts. Overall, "Love and Other Drugs" stands as another fine film from Zwick, a dramedy that handles a difficult topic with grace and care.
VIDEO: "Love and Other Drugs" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 (1080P/AVC) on Blu-Ray. The presentation certainly isn't the kind of effort that will result in this being the Blu-Ray demo disc that home theatre fans reach for, but it is fine considering the material. Sharpness and detail certainly are very good (for the most part) but never reach the kind of remarkable levels that the format is capable of producing, with fine details that aren't as crystal clear as one might hope. The streets of New York City look terrific and I spent a fair amount of time checking out various city locations in the film as they went by.
The presentation didn't suffer from any edge enhancement or print flaws, but a little bit of noise was occasionally seen. Colors looked natural, with nice saturation and no smearing. Flesh tones also generally appeared spot-on. Overall, the presentation wasn't dazzling, but remained satisfactory.
SOUND: The film is presented with a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio presentation. The film's sound design is a basic, dialogue-driven comedy/drama mix, with little in the way of surround activity. Audio quality was fine, with a crisp score and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: "Selling Love and Other Drugs" featurette, featurettes on the lead characters, an acting featurette, deleted scenes and the trailer, as well as BD-Live features.
Final Thoughts: Love and Other Drugs" stands as another fine film from Zwick, a dramedy that handles a difficult topic with grace and care. The Blu-Ray edition boasts satisfactory audio/video quality, but minimal extras. Recommended.
The Film B+