Friday, December 10, 2010

Sometimes you have to take one for the team-Love and Other Drugs

Monday, December 6, 2010 08:02 AM

Sunday I settled my “Meg Ryan” debt. That is, the number of movies made for women that I owed my wife for putting up with my movie selections. We watched Love and Other Drugs instead going to see Deathly Hallows.   Love and Other Drugs is a story of a young man's transition obnoxious jack ass to self important  jack ass and then fulfilling his true destiny by become a doctor jack ass, due to his falling in love with dying woman.  Despite some bright spots, the movie collapsed under the weight of its own inaneness.

Jake Gyllenhaall plays Jamie Randall, a narcissistic pharmaceutical representative and self proclaimed shit head. In the last minute or two, he suddenly transforms from a womanizing, self centered pharmacy rep to caring nurturer and medical student.

Maggie Murdoch, adroitly portrayed by Anne Hathaway, is the crucible that provides the catalytic fire responsible for Randall's 180 degree change. Maggie has early onset Parkinson's Disease. She faces life with a indomitable, yet vulnerable, Hollywood damaged heroine way.  Her character is by far the more interesting character and I was grateful we got to see so much of her (wink wink, nudge nudge). By not concentrating more on her and concentrating too 
much on Gyllenhaal's unfunny and un-interesting character, Love and Other Drugs missed an opportunity to be a much better film.

There is a touching sequence in the middle of the film that resonated with me personally; while attending a sales conference in Chicago with Randall, Maggie finds herself in a survivors group. She leaves the survivors group with a new sense of empowerment only to encounter Jamie, who has become convinced that if they try hard enough, they could find a cure for her Parkinson's. As she tries to flourish, his well intended efforts push her back into the box of being defined by her illness.

For me, it is the difference between a sign that reads “Parking for People with Disabilities,” and one that says “Handicapped Only,” as if there were some sort of apartheid between the TAB (temporarily able bodied) and the handicapped or disabled. Because of my illness, I often need help; sometimes, to accept that help I have to surrender the undisabled part of me. Maggie does not wish to be consumed by her illness and struggles to retain her personality beyond her illness.

Given her willingness to do nude scenes and play a disabled person, excuse me, person with a disability, I am surprised there is no Oscar buzz around Anne Hathaway's performance. Perhaps there would have been if the movie had concentrated more on her character's story and less on the unfunny Viagra jokes.

 In fairness, I should mention that Jake Gyllenhaall looks pretty good naked too.

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Friday, December 10, 2010 01:21 PM

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