Blu-Review: Love and Other Drugs

Directed By Ed Zwick
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria and Josh Gad

It’s the mid-nineties and serial womaniser Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), recently fired from his job as a stereo salesman, finds his way into an entry-level position as a drug rep at the start of the ’90s pharmaceutical boom. Putting his natural charm to use, he starts selling and sleeping his way up the corporate ladder, but things change when he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), a snarky waitress with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. The two fall into bed together and embark on a casual fling, but Jamie soon starts to fall in love, which poses a big problem for commitment-phobe Maggie, whose disease makes it impossible for her to lead a normal relationship.

The ‘casual sex couple complicate things by falling in love’ thread might raise alarm bells and have you expecting another mediocre No Strings Attached-style rom-com, while the ailing lover angle is too often used as an excuse for lazy, manufactured tear-jerking. Thankfully, Love and Other Drugs avoids slipping into either trap, and spends most of its time dodging the clichés of the romantic comedy genre, instead focusing on creating well-developed characters and an earnest, believable romance while portraying Maggie’s illness honestly and touchingly without using it tastelessly to tug at heartstrings. It takes a frank view of sex (there’s nudity aplenty from both of the leads) and attempts an equally grown-up insight into the problems and dramas facing two inherently dysfunctional people trying to be together despite the Parkinson’s-shaped elephant in the room. It’s a surprisingly thoughtful, intelligent and witty film enlivened even more by the substantial innate charm of Gyllenhaal and Hathaway.

(Click images to enlarge)

It takes a certain kind of charisma to pull off being a selfish manwhore on-screen and still remain a likeable romantic lead; Gyllenhaal delivers enough charm to make it entirely believable that women would be fawning all over him and he’d be able to sell snow to an Eskimo. Anne Hathaway, once crowned ‘the next Julia Roberts’, proves yet again that she’s infinitely more talented than that, even in rom-com roles. The two have enough chemistry to fuel a science convention and are backed up by a great supporting cast, with the ever-wonderful Oliver Platt having fun as Jamie’s sales parter and Judy Greer and Hank Azaria putting in welcome appearances. The only weak link is Josh Gad who, as Jamie’s abrasive gross-out brother, is little more than a poor man’s Jonah Hill (himself a poor man’s Seth Rogan).

Things sadly veer off track in the third act, where after an hour or so of cultivating a realistic, well-written relationship with believable bumps in the road, the film gives up on maintaining a refreshingly earnest romance and opts instead for a rushed, sappy and clichéd feel-good ending. As a result, Love and Other Drugs does a much more honest and effective job showing us why these characters should be apart than it does bringing them back together. As much as we’re rooting for the two characters to find happiness, the hurried last-minute ‘love transforms self-centred womaniser into wonderful, caring person’ arc doesn’t feel earned as it recycles every familiar rom-com cliché. Witty, intelligent and honest dialogue suddenly becomes replaced with painfully saccharine romantic speeches as the cloying, manipulative score does its best to milk a Pavlovian response of tears every few minutes.

(Click images to enlarge)

Still, even though it doesn’t follow through in the last act, for the most part it’s a touching, intelligent and charming cut above the usual schmaltzy rom-com fare. Love and Other Drugs is sharp, sexy and witty, and with a smart script, well-developed characters and two great leads with chemistry to spare, it’s an excellent and surprisingly weighty romantic comedy for those tired of the usual disposable date movies.

(Click images to enlarge)

The Blu-ray set released by Fox Home Entertainment UK boasts a clear, detailed and perfect-looking HD transfer and a solid audio treatment. The Blu-ray disc received for review did not contain any special features, though the press release lists the following extras:

• Deleted Scenes
• Love & Other Drugs: An Actor’s Discussion
• Beautifully Complex: Anne Hathaway is Maggie
• Reformed Womanizer: Jake Gyllenhaal is Jamie
• Selling Love & Other Drugs
• Theatrical Trailer

The set is also a Triple-Play package which includes a Blu-ray disc, DVD copy and a digital copy.

The Film:

The Blu-ray:

Love and Other Drugs is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from

(Note: The images above were captured and saved at a reduced quality, and though they give an idea of how the film looks, they aren’t intended to reflect the true quality of the Blu-ray image itself.)