Love and Other Drugs has the advantage of two winning leads and lots of sex. Anne Hathaway gives a profoundly deep and textured performance as a smart and horny woman urgently living life to the fullest in a desperate race with Parkinson’s Disease. Jake Gyllenhaal nails the role of a charismatic and relentless serial seducer. And the two of them have lots of sex. Fully naked sex.
Unfortunately, Love and Other Drugs peters out into a Disease-of-the-Week movie, albeit pretty good for that forlorn genre.
One moment in particular illustrates how much better this film could have been. Hathaway emerges from a Parkinson’s support group uplifted and empowered, while Gyllenhaal has just received an unvarnished description of living with Parkinson’s from the husband of a later stage patient. We see what she doesn’t – that the two are no longer on the same page. Peter Friedman plays the patient’s husband with an authenticity that will be recognized by anyone who has experienced caregiver fatigue. It’s a great scene – but then the movie turns sappy.
Sadly, the overly broad comic relief attempted by Josh Gad as Gyllenhaal’s little brother merely distracts from the story. So does the sappy score – beware soulful piano in the third act. And when a movie climaxes by having the boy race to catch the girl in the nick of time, it’s as much of a cliché to catch up to the bus as it is to pant up to an airport loading gate.