“Pride and Prej­u­dice with Prozac” – Tara Brady re­views Love and Other Drugs,

Sexy stars and a whip-smart script make this the best rom­com of the year, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS Di­rected by Ed­ward Zwick. Star­ring Jake Gyl­len­haal, Anne Hath­away, Oliver Platt, Judy Greer, Gabriel Macht, Hank Azaria

15A cert, gen re­lease, 112 min IT’S BEEN A long time (24 years) since About Last Night, di­rec­tor Ed Zwick’s last foray into the cutesy-pie gen­res. Since then the du­ti­ful cin­ema punter has lost many hours, nay days, watch­ing the di­rec­tor’s patented pres­tige vacu­ity: em­pires crum­bled in the time it took for The Siege, The Last Sa­mu­rai and Leg­ends of the Fall to make it to the end cred­its. Zwick’s other works, mean­while (Glory, Courage Un­der Fire) are the wrong side of wor­thy, if not the wrong side of three hours.

Who, there­fore, would have pre­dicted that the di­rec­tor’s new film would turn out to be the best ro­man­tic com­edy of the sea­son? Slot­ting into the spot oc­cu­pied by Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Get­ting Mar­ried last year, Love and Other Drugs shrinks away from the grandil­o­quence of Zwick’s re­cent De­fi­ance and Blood Di­a­mond to­ward some­thing more hu­manly proportioned.

On the sur­face, Love and Other Drugs be­longs to a sub­genre that has long been de­rided by crit­ics and wags as the MPDG (Manic Pixie Dream Girl) movie. You know the sort: she’s Katharine Hep­burn in Bring­ing Up Baby, Natalie Port­man in Gar­den State, Zooey Deschanel in ev­ery­thing.

Here she’s Anne Hath­away, a ball-break­ing, pot-smok­ing loft-dwelling artist and an ob­ject of fas­ci­na­tion for a ris­ing big-pharma sales star, played by Jake Gyl­len­haal. Their eyes meet. She slaps him in the gob. He gives her some lip. You can guess the rest.

Agree­ably aug­ment­ing the two­some’s MPDG ro­mance is a whip-smart script and a barbed com­men­tary on US health­care and bad medicines. (The film is loosely based on Jamie Reidy’s non-fic­tion book Hard Sell: The Evo­lu­tion of a Vi­a­gra Sales­man.)

As our hero flogs elixirs to the wor­ried well and bribes his way past the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion, his feisty girl­friend bat­tles early-on­set Parkin­son’s and buses old folks up to Canada to avail of that coun­try’s cheaper pre­scrip­tions. Be­tween them they cover most of the ma­te­rial in Michael Moore’s Sicko while mak­ing you be­lieve you’re watch­ing a su­pe­rior Jerry Maguire.

It sounds im­prob­a­ble, but it works. Fact-to-fea­ture films usu­ally turn out top-heavy ( Thank You for Smok­ing) or sink un­der the weight of their ma­te­rial ( Fast Food Nation).

Love and Other Drugs is a proper, classy two-step, a sort of Pride & Prej­u­dice with Prozac and 30 min­utes of sex. Hath­away, who spits out the de­fen­sive wit of Juno at Ros­alind Rus­sell speeds, walks away with the pic­ture.

Opens to­day

Pho­to­genic: Anne Hath­away and Jake Gyl­len­haal in Love and Other Drugs

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