Monday, November 29, 2010

Prophecy Girl Reviews Love & Other Drugs!

Before we get started here, a few caveats:

1.  I'm not big on romantic comedies.
2.  No matter how well he inhabits the character he's playing, Jake Gyllenhaal always looks like Jake Gyllenhaal to me.
3.  I have an intense dislike of the commercialization of the pharmaceutical industry.

*very minor spoilers below*

Love & Other Drugs opened last Wednesday and has, to date, grossed $14 million.  Amongst Jake Gyllenhaal flicks, this puts it on the low side of average.  I walk the same emotional tightrope every time Jake puts out a movie.  Being emotionally invested, I want his films to do well...but also I'm shamelessly piggybacking on his reputation and thus, on a personal level, his hopes become my hopes.  I've gone through this several times now, and after three, four, five rounds of interviews and talk shows, I'm feeling the wear and tear.  He always looks so damned earnest when he's selling his movies.  Does he really believe that the one he's talking about at that moment is going to be a hit?  I don't know.  It's his job to make us believe he does.  All I know is what I observed through this community, and that's that the interest and excitement for Love & Other Drugs peaked way too soon...


I'm extremely interested in the reactions of those who saw the movie early.  I've never heard of a film being screened so widely before its release, and considering all the positive buzz coming from the test audiences, I wonder if the movie they saw was the same one I did, or if I'm just being a nerd as usual and looking far too deeply into things.

So here are my thoughts:  The movie was alright.

But.

(And this is the point at which everyone rightly rolls their eyes and groans at me.  Because here I go again!!)

The first half made me depressed, because (see point #1 above about romantic comedies) I don't even have an incurable disease and no one ever relentlessly pursues my affections.  The second half made me even more depressed, because, er, it was depressing.  And by the end of it, I realized that all I had really wanted to watch was a movie about the sleazy underside of pharmaceutical sales.  Because that was the part of the story that was legitimately interesting. 

Unfortunately, more screen time was given to Hallmark-Hall-of-Fame-style confessional home videos than any exploration of the ramifications of working as a drug rep in the amoral world of pharmaceuticals.  I realize this movie wasn't made to either condemn or celebrate America's colossally dysfunctional healthcare system, but hell, maybe it should have been.  The way it stands, the potential political statement was steamrolled by the love story and the love story was stuffed haphazardly into the career subplot and really, why was there all that nudity?  For all the promises of an "adult" love story (with crazy sex and toplessness), the whole thing felt pretty damned conventional in terms of a movie relationship.  What's so shocking about a film where all men (even your doctor!) are sex-obsessed jerks and all women jump into bed with anyone who will have them at the first opportunity?  And where's the originality in following a womanizing playboy who falls in love and renounces his ways?  The woman's a bitch with a problem, the man's a player with a sensitive side, and this is every romantic comedy ever made.

It's just...the potential was there!  It could have been great!  But it wasn't great.  And now I'm a bitch for even saying this because for years I've been lobbying for Jake to step outside his comfort zone and do a movie like this (or Prince of Persia) and now that he's done it, I'm denouncing the end result.

There's no satisfying me.

A few specifics:

- Josh Gad's character...WHY?!  I like Josh Gad as much as the next Daily Show junkie but he was wasted here.  Jamie could have been an only child and nothing would have been lost...except for a lot of discomfort on my part.
- Anne Hathaway was brilliant and totally stole the show.
- That said, if Anne Hathaway hadn't been in the movie, I would have liked the storyline better.
- The biggest laugh of the film for me was when the bus door hit Jake in the face.  Because I'm actually 7.
- I was horribly disturbed at myself when, during Jake's nude scenes, my primary thought was, "Yeah, this is nothing I haven't seen before."
- Did Anne Hathaway work in that coffee shop?  What was that??  And what was with her trucking seniors across the border?  Was that her job, too?  And did she sell her artwork?  I don't understand her financial situation.  And maybe it's not that important, but if so, why give her three jobs over the course of an hour or so of screentime?
- And maybe that sums up all of my problems here.  Why that detail?  Why any of the detail?  Why did it matter that Jamie was a drug rep?  Where was the coherency?
- Tellingly, the most enjoyable close-up of the entire film for me came when Jake said, "I'm full of shit."
- I love a good montage (the opening one was fan-tastic) but Christ, this movie was on montage-steroids.
- I read a review that said this film took place from 1996 to 1999.  Did it?  Where was that passage of time noted?
- I was kind of looking forward to some closure with whatshisname, the rival rep, but no.
- The hype over the sex scenes and nudity was so overblown.  Ohmigaw.
- Jake did a good job and none of my complaints reflect on his performance. 
- Speaking of Jake, for the second time in a row, he really looked like he was having fun with his chosen profession.  Praise Jesus.

In summation, I'd love to know what those early test audiences thought about the final product, I'd love to know the thoughts of people who like romantic comedies, and I'd love it if movies were released at the same time the world over so we could all talk about this at once.  But most of all, I'd love for all of you to yell at me now about being impossible and not loving this.  Because I didn't.  Even if Anne did make me cry twice.

6.5 out of 10 stars.  And it only gets the point-five for the Macarena.  [Insert joke about me being a "hard sell" here.]

23 comments:

Monica November 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

PG, lately I am skeptical of these tests.
I was very happy with the initial reactions, so I hoped it would be a great movie, but all these negative reviews were a surprise.

The good thing is that Jake and Anne were praised for their performances.

sumi k November 29, 2010 at 9:22 PM  

i was kind of mad that i went to see this movie.

i dragged my boyfriend of the nut butter fame with me, and i was sick. and to be honest, i kind of only wanted to see it in theatres because i had that damn onerepublic song stuck in my head (the cello part, to be exact) and i was hoping to somehow exorcise it from my mind.

but instead the sudafed kicked in about midway through the movie, the woman behind me was a loud mouth breather who was either masturbating or having an asthma attack, and at an especially poignant lifetime scene my darling beloved boyfriend decided to lean over and whisper to me that he had, "a bad case of the bean farts".

my evening ended in a haze of cough syrup and stank.

5/10 stars.

i wish he would have played this role with the dastan hair.

Prophecy Girl November 29, 2010 at 9:54 PM  

Monica, I'm with you 100%. Jake and Anne both did wonderfully and I'm glad they're not being blamed for what I see as some pretty major problems with the storyline itself. But it's so weird that there was all this great buzz and then the reviews are so opposite that! I'm baffled as to what happened...

sumi, girl, at least you had a man to go with you. I used to go to these movies and come out of them all happy, deluded into believing that there really is someone for everyone. Now, I just sit there like, 'The Parkinson's chick gets Jake fucking Gyllenhaal and I'm sitting here by myself?!' Again, this hearkens back to my issues with rom-coms... But your review was lulz-worthy through and though. :D (I pity your situation...but am glad I wasn't the only one to not give it top marks. ;))

Monica November 29, 2010 at 10:15 PM  

Perhaps that initial buzz was created by the studio. It is normal a studio to create positive buzz for their movies.

Lola,  November 29, 2010 at 10:55 PM  

Well, if the parkinsons chick looks and has the body that Anne does, than hell yes she gets Jake Gyllenhaal.

I'm not really a great movie ctritic, i don't go to deep into things. The more I think about LAOD the more I love it, but I'm going to wait till it comes out on dvd to see it again. I hate movie theaters. I enjoy siting comfortably at home pausing and rewinding it whenever I please.

KD,  November 29, 2010 at 11:04 PM  

Sumi K, girl. If you want to hear masturbating 50 year old women and teenage girls having orgasms every which direction, I'd suggest you check yourself into the next showing of the Twilight saga.

No joke.

I actually think someone was masturbating when I watched the first Twilight movie. :| It was disturbed.

NoSuchAngel November 30, 2010 at 1:04 AM  

Completely fair review, PG. I, too, was not over the moon about the movie. I have still not gotten used to this fact. I loved what you said about you would've loved the movie more if Anne's character had not been in it. And I think that's a lot of where the root of my complaints are coming from. Maggie (Anne, really) completely stole the show and I feel like it took away from the story of Jamie's character being properly told. I'm a rom-com fiend, its usually my favorite film genre. I did like what the genre did for Jake in allowing us to see that funny/dorky side of him.
But I think the timing of all the story arcs were totally rushed. With all the information presented, L&OD should've been like a 4 hour movie and I honestly probably would've been okay with that. It was hard to stay with such an abrupt storyline. They totally presented too many details and mulled over what we were lead to believe as the major story points, IMO.

S4M985 November 30, 2010 at 2:04 AM  

Sumi K, comment win... KD, backing it up!!!

I would have to say these are the most entertaining comments ever!!


But, i cant comment on the movie.. because i havnt seen it yet!!

First it was december 30 for me, then i saw on tv that it was dec 16 (YES!) then i went and asked at the cinema and he said boxing day :(

hen777,  November 30, 2010 at 2:52 AM  

Hi, I went to an early media viewing of the film in October and no one was raving about the film...I agree with everything Prophecy Girl has said. The storyline was lame, but, the sex scenes are great because 1) Jake has great chemistry with Anne....and 2) come on...what can beat seeing nearly all of fit naked Jake...

Some people in the media are too scared of loosing their cool with the film companies, especially Warners because they can not invite you back to screenings or premieres. So they give them good reviews, but come on this film was not good. Verging on dreadful...

sumi k November 30, 2010 at 9:06 AM  

LOL KD....


let me tell you. my boyfriend actually worked on the past two twilight movies (and the current one filming). the stories he tells about the fans are seriously hilarious and or pathetic. i got the joy of going to the premiere for the past two, and i thought i was going to get knifed by a rabid fan. no lie. those are some scary chicks.

also, when i took my niece to see New Moon in theaters, there was a girl sitting in front of us who giggled nervously every time Pattz had screen time. like she was waiting for a first kiss. at first i thought she had tourettes but then i heard her stage whisper to her friend, "i cant help it, he is just so orgasmic" (insert nervous serial killer giggling/breathiness).

i did NOT want to know why she chose to say this in a movie theater, but it was by far the most uncomfortable moment ever.

though i will say that the woman behind me breathing for gylls was creepy as hell, too. come to think of it, she may have been wearing a twilight shirt. i think she very well could have been. :|

Prophecy Girl November 30, 2010 at 11:57 AM  

I would like to proudly speculate that this is the only Jake-themed blog on the internet that took its discussion of L&OD and turned it into a conversation about masturbating during the Twilight movies. This is why we are superior to all others. :D

So taking Monica's and hen777's views into consideration, I feel a bit like a naive dolt for thinking the buzz was genuine. Clearly, you're both right, and it's really interesting, hen, that the people in your theater weren't into it. I also second everything NSA wrote, because EXACTLY. I would have watched a 4 hour movie, too! There was so much there to work with...

And for real, it is so sad that, like, half of the people who read this blog have to wait to see the movie (sad for me, that is, because I selfishly want to know everyone's opinions right freaking now!).

Call Me Mo November 30, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

I was really hoping it was going to be more of a dramedy which could have been nice. I really don't like when movie previews don't match up with the movie. They did that with Brothers, but it ended being an ok situation. From the sounds of it, that's not the case with this. I just wish the previews were actually a good reflection of what you are going to see, but then I guess people would be less likely to see them. It's a no-win situation.

Vanessa November 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM  

Wow, this is interesting to say the least to see what some have said so far. First, I want to ask Mo, did you see it yet? Your comments sound like you haven't, but I wasn't sure if I was misunderstanding that. If you have not, then please try not to be influenced by the negative reviews. However, I need to point out that there have been many many good or even great reviews.

I have already posted on the forum what I thought & to state it here, I loved it. & I loved it for what it was. I didn't go with any expectations other than a whole lot of nekkid Jake, which was actually not a whole lot of in reality. I also didn't necessarily want more about the pharma industry bullshit, even though I intensely dislike their commercialization too. WTF, I mean certain drugs & pharmaceuticals are necessary for a lot of people in this country to just get by, so it just seems so effing wrong that it is such a gigantic for profit industry & an obscene amount of profits at that. OK, off my soapbox now. Just needed to say that bit.

Back to the movie, I totally loved Anne's character & her intense chemistry with Jake's. & as far as her income situation, she was obviously a collage artist & I assumed one that didn't make a lot of money, so she supplemented her income with that waitress job. As far as bussing those seniors to Canada, I didn't get the idea she made money at it, that she was just helping them get their prescriptions a WHOLE lot cheaper over the border. I just assumed she did it out of compassion because she knew they needed help. Or maybe she got her own scrips filled there as well? She obviously didn't have insurance, & I imagine all those meds she was taking were probably not generic & cheap. OK, for those of you still yet to see it, I hope to hear that more liked it for what it was, just a good love story, period. Regardless of cliches, stereotypes, etc. I loved it & I loved it a lot. Now, I will probably get a rep for being one of those that have no sense regarding movies since I seem to like all of Jake's movies. But that's me, I find something I like in most everything. Not all are Oscar worthy for sure, but I found a likeable story in all of them for different reasons. >;-)

Anonymous,  November 30, 2010 at 2:06 PM  

WOW I hadn't even thought about what Anne's financial situation was. I mean what kind of salary did she get that she could afford that loft. It looks pretty pricy. She did make me cry when she was trying to open that pill bottle and she she broke the glass.

I liked the movie. I don't think it's the best story ever told (BBM covered that in Jake's career)

I can only hope that Source Code will blow me away more than this one did (but I have to say I wish I saw more of Jake's tushie. I like it)

sweetpea

Anonymous,  November 30, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

I have never been to a Twilight movie and hearing you guys talking about your...heu...adventures...makes me really glad for that. :DD

I saw LAOD on opening night, we were about a dozen people in the cinema and there weren't much reaction during the movie. I think one person laughed at one point.

What I liked:

- The first part where Jamie is an electronics salesman. Jake was so good in that scene, it looked so natural and like he was having a blast.

- Naked Jake: He is the most beautiful human being I have ever seen and during some scenes I didn't hear the dialogue, I was mesmerized by his beauty. There was less sex than I expected but I disagree with Ed Zwick that those scenes were all necessary. I don't think he needed so many of this type of scene to tell Maggie and Jamie's story.

- Anne's hair: It was awesome!

- The first half of the movie that concentrates on the pharmaceutical industry. Very interesting, I would have watched an entire movie about that.

- Anne's performance until things got too mushy for my taste.

- The black and white scenes. Anne and Jake were so beautiful in those.

- The ending montage. Very well done, serene and beautiful.

Now, what I didn't like:

- Every single scene whith Jamie's brother. I didn't find them funny, one was really gross and creepy and they were all unnecessary in my opinion. It's like they were from a completely different movie and unfortunately not the kind of movie I enjoy.

- The sappy bus scene. One critic said that this was a scene where you would either cry your eyes out or roll them at the screen. Unfortunately I was in the rolling party. I just couldn't buy Jake's acting in that scene, he was so melodramatic.

I agree with people who said the movie has a multiple personnality disorder, it's like it was 3 very different movies jumbled together and the difference in tones was just too much for me. I would give it a 6 and would not recommend seeing it in a theater unless you're a gyllenhaalic. Even if I found LAOD was just an OK movie, the glorious sight of a naked Jake deserves to be seen on a big screen. :)

Olympia

Monica November 30, 2010 at 10:20 PM  

See for a good side, you learned that these tests are not always reliable.
The best thing to do is wait for the movie to be screened for critics or in some festival.

He and and Anne were great together during this promotion period.
The fox did a good job. The problem was the release date. This film was to have launched before and not on a weekend with many family films.

Sasha,  December 1, 2010 at 11:16 AM  

havent seen it yet - wont be out here before Jan 1st I guess - but I'm not too intrigued...didnt get the buzz back for me. *shucks*

We will see, I'm undecided - maybe my dear friend will get tickets for german premier night and I might go there with her - as we could use it as a nice start to party into her b-day :P

LOLMAO about the twilight comment Sumi-K ... hahaha I know why I hate going to the movies and rather watch my movies at home. ;)

gyllenhaalisgr8 December 2, 2010 at 11:51 PM  

It seems PG saw a totally different movie than I did. At least Vanessa and I am on the same page. I also loved it. I had so many friends that wanted to see it that I ended up going to the theatre four times (one time I stayed and sat through it twice). It was what it was -- a modern love story with two very beautiful people in it that I really came to care about. I took six different women at different times and they all loved it, one cried, hugged me, and said it was one of the best movies she had ever seen. As for Josh Gad, I loved him. We all have weird relatives (admit it). I thought his parts were great comedy, and the other audience members did also by their appropriately placed laughter. What is up with you people? Jake never looked better and he handled every acting emotion there was. Anne, and everyone else in the cast, was honestly portrayed. The music was kickass. I don't know what you were expecting, but it's a shame you missed out on a nice pic due to nit-picking! Amen.

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