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Friday, August 3, 2012

Love & Other Drugs Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
I’m not sure who I heard it from, but I heard some negative things about Love & Other Drugs. I had heard it was a cookie cutter chick flick where someone was sick and probably spent the movie dying.  This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Love & Other Drugs may be a chick flick, but it isn’t formulaic and the sick person is actually more concerned with living her life to the fullest. This is one of the rare occasions I am willing to admit my initial assumptions were completely wrong and I’m glad I watched it.



Film (4 out of 5 stars)

Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a successful electronics salesman and even more successful pick up artist.  One day however, he picks up the wrong woman, which gets him fired from his job.  His brother Josh suggests he try his hand at being a pharmaceutical rep and says he has the connections to make it happen.  After learning that being a pharmaceutical rep is “the only entry level job that pays $100,000 per year,”  Jamie signs up with Pfizer.
Jamie goes through training and gets his assigned territory, which requires him to move to Ohio.  There he quickly learns that a rival drug rep is having all the luck charming the ladies of the doctor’s offices and Jamie follows suit.  Aware now that the receptionist holds the key to everything, Jamie flatters the older ones, sleeps with the younger ones and starts gaining success.  Jamie basically bribes one doctor, played by Hank Azaria, to allow him to observe his practice.  This is where he meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway).  Murdock is a 26 year old patient with Parkinson’s disease who had come in to get her medications refilled and to get a suspicious spot on her breast checked.  Later in the parking lot Murdock realizes that Jamie isn’t a doctor and that she has just exposed herself to a drug rep and she suitably tells him off, taking a picture of him as a souvenir.
When Jamie realizes that his charm has failed on Maggie he does what comes natural to him– he pursues her.  He gets her number from one of the receptionists he’s been sleeping with and makes a date.  The date ends quickly as it appears as Jamie has found his counterpart.  Maggie is just looking for a good time, wants a no-strings-attached arrangement and invites him back to her place while confronting him on all the b.s. he was planning to add to the conversation to get her there.  What follows is the first of many sex scenes with full (but not necessarily frontal) nudity on the part of both the film’s stars.  I’m often tempted to throw on a chick flick while my son is playing with his toys as I know that he won’t be unwittingly exposed to something scary or violent.  Based on the sex scenes in Love & Other Drugs, I would recommend waiting until the kids are out of the room and sound asleep.
Maggie’s Parkinson’s disease has made her focus on living in the present and not planning for the future.  Jamie is just a womanizer.  But as the film progresses the casual affair becomes serious and neither Jamie nor Maggie had planned for that.  The couple travels to a pharmaceutical convention where Maggie finds the un-convention meeting across the street.  There she meets other Parkinson’s sufferers and is enthusiastic about the future.  She is amazed with all they have done and still plan to do and is grateful to Jamie for bringing her.  Unfortunately, while there Jamie meets the husband of a patient who tells him to run away.  The rest of the film is mostly about whether or not Jamie and Maggie will stay together.   Jamie wants to cure Maggie’s incurable disease and Maggie wants to make the most of every day she has.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway both do exceptional jobs of making you like the characters and wanting to see their relationship work.  They are both extremely charming and make an adorable couple.  There are a lot of sweet and endearing moments between the two of them that make the running time of 112 minutes fly by.  I never once checked my watch or wondered when this would be over, as I often do during other films.
Edward Zwick directs Love & Other Drugs and amazingly manages not to turn this into the usual formulaic non-stop melodrama tear jerker that I had expected.  The strong supporting cast consists of Oliver Platt as Jamie’s sales partner, Hank Azaria as the doctor and reluctant friend to Jamie, and Josh Gad as the overweight but successful brother living on Jamie’s couch.  I felt like everyone was perfectly cast in this film and many of the roles seemed as though they had been written with the specific actor in mind.  This romantic comedy certainly isn’t an original concept, but the story is well told and I’m glad I got the chance to see it.

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

Love & Other Drugs is presented in a 1080p 1.85:1 wide-screen transfer and the quality is very good.  This film’s flesh tones look natural and consistent which is good for a film with so much nudity.   The film has both color and black and white scenes and the color is vivd and the contrast is excellent as well.  Black levels are solid and the detail is sharp, and this is an instance where I truly noticed that I’m watching a Blu-ray instead of DVD. There is no distracting use of DNR and this is great film-like transfer.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars)

The film is primarily dialogue driven which is easily heard and understood.  There are no scenes that stretch the limits of the sound quality, but what is heard is clear and more than adequate.  The mix is well balanced with the dialogue never being drowned out by the music by James Newton-Howard or by any effects.  The sound track is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 in English, and 5.1 Dolby Digital French and Spanish.  Subtitles are in English, French and Spanish as well.

Special Features (4 out of 5 stars)

After enjoying the film, I found that the special features definitely added to the overall experience.  I was surprised that the stars didn’t discuss their love scenes – or how hard someone had to twist their arms to make it happen. 
  • Deleted scenes – These deleted/extended scenes really would have added a lot to the film.  It must have been a hard decision what to leave on the cutting room floor.
  • Love & Other Drugs: An Actor’s Discussion – Everyone who made this movie thinks everyone who made this movie is awesome and I don’t disagree.
  • Beautifully Complex:  Anne Hathaway is Maggie – discussion of why Hathaway is perfect for her role.
  • Reformed womanizer:  Jake Gyllenhaal is Jamie – Similarly Gyllenhaal has also been perfectly cast.
  • Selling Love & Other Drugs – We meet the man Jamie’s character is based on and I am surprised that he isn’t very good looking.
  • BD-Live – Jake’s Favorite Scene – At only a minute long, there isn’t much to it but women will still enjoy another look at Jake.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)

Jake Gyllenhaal is the King of Charm and he has found his Queen in Anne Hathaway.  In one of the special features Hathaway explains that “love is hard, and it’s work, and it’s scary and it’s totally worth it.”  Love & Other Drugs has pleasantly surprised me and I am now considering watching Brokeback Mountain, which the special features tell me also starred Gyllenhaal and Hathaway.  I’m very curious to have my husband watch the film and see if he enjoys it as much as I did or if he tells me I liked it because I’m a girl – genetically predetermined to love movies like this.
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