THE LITTLE BLUE pill known as Viagra changed the sexual potential of baby boomers everywhere, and it also changed Jamie Reidy's life. With Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, Reidy exposed many of the pharmaceutical industry's insider secrets—secrets that director Edward Zwick has set out to further publicize with Love And Other Drugs, casting Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie. Not content to tell the story of one man's maturation in a politically relevant industry, Hollywood added a love interest in Maggie (Anne Hathaway), and because this movie is about medicine, she had to be sick.
Maggie has early onset Parkinson's, which, as far as it's explored in this film, means that her hands shake when she's tired, and that if she doesn't get a prescription filled she is prone to maudlin drunkenness, and that she and Jamie can never have a real relationship, only sex. Lots and lots of sex. And so, a complicated romance is added to Jamie's money-hungry rise to success as a Viagra salesman driven by pressure foisted on him by a family of overachievers. In other words, if you're looking for any poignant criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry, you might want to adjust your expectations in favor of relationship montages and two or three cycles of break up/make up.
Granted, it's an unconventional mix: Big-budget romances aren't usually this raunchy, and female leads aren't usually grappling with incurable illness (and in Pittsburgh, no less). The Pfizer culture of cutthroat sales competition and inflated salaries is interesting territory, but the film never lands anything solid or memorable on either front: Jamie and Maggie's relationship woes are weary, and though the actors do fine, their storyline is too prone to stereotypical situations and awkward dialogue. Meanwhile Jamie's evolving career philosophy begins to trail off, and it all ends in a final cop-out chapter that leaves the audience minimally edified and minorly disappointed.