Love and Other Drugs (Reviews)

Sabin
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Postby Sabin » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:15 pm

(Mister Tee @ Oct. 27 2010,9:33)
The only difference this time around is the way in which Zwick fails. Normally he deals in Weighty Progressive Subjects, which all the Oscar hypers proclaim Academy catnip, but the end result film is always so bland even the old-time voters don't bite. This time he took a (by studio standards) sexy/light premise, and managed to bungle that as well. You could call this a change of pace.

I recall William Goldman's article about working on The Ghost and the Darkness and working with Michael Douglas, whom he calls a fantastic producer, one of the finest in the industry. But when working with him simultaneously as actor AND producer, the man could not separate integrity from ego and insisted upon a lengthy monologue to bring us into his characters' pain.

Clearly for Edward Zwick, it is not about money. He's not Bruckheimer by any means. It is about approval. And approval is something that can only exist when projected from others, so that requires commerce to go hand in hand with prestige. The result is like mixing vanilla ice cream with vanilla ice cream. I just stay away from his movies. On the whole, I don't have a problem with ten nominated pictures because it is worth more to me to see something of modest scope and major artistry boosted (A Serious Man) than to see something populist wrongly touted (The Blind Side). Zwick will get his nomination at long last but it will be made out of bronze.


(Mister Tee @ Oct. 27 2010,9:33)
Sabin, your story illustrates the down side of both the studio system and the auteur theory. Occasionally a bland director can latch onto a great script and stay far enough out of the way to make a memorable film (Madden with Shakespeare in Love a prime example). But far more often the mediocre director will "fix" the script so it fits his bland world-view, reducing potentially interesting projects to the usual product.

I had the misfortune of collaborating on a project with a woman of the industry earlier this year. It fell through despite my intentions, though by the end of the collaboration I wanted to run away screaming. The bane of all Hollywood projects must be someone spitballing an idea at another, and that party replying "That's interesting." Anything that forces someone to rethink the project is "interesting".

Unlike in other countries, there is very little trace of singular vision in American cinema, it would seem. There is too much group-think. Didn't Pauline Kael refute the auteur theory, citing the relative indifference of John Ford as proof? Regardless of how many on-set decisions are collaborative, the auteur theory is powerfully real through the on-set decision-making processes of creatives. Likewise, there is an anti-auteur theory behind the off-AND-onset decision-making processes of functionaries, AND functionaries dressed as creatives. Like Edward Zwick. An Edward Zwick may not succeed in having a singular filmic identity unlike any other filmmaker, but because of his milquetoast sensibilities he does succeed in failing to have a singular filmic identity unlike any other filmmaker.




Edited By Sabin on 1288300588
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Mister Tee
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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:33 am

The only difference this time around is the way in which Zwick fails. Normally he deals in Weighty Progressive Subjects, which all the Oscar hypers proclaim Academy catnip, but the end result film is always so bland even the old-time voters don't bite. This time he took a (by studio standards) sexy/light premise, and managed to bungle that as well. You could call this a change of pace.

Sabin, your story illustrates the down side of both the studio system and the auteur theory. Occasionally a bland director can latch onto a great script and stay far enough out of the way to make a memorable film (Madden with Shakespeare in Love a prime example). But far more often the mediocre director will "fix" the script so it fits his bland world-view, reducing potentially interesting projects to the usual product.

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Postby Sabin » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:02 am

(quick diversion)

So, my godfather's college roommate was Charles Leavitt. He's a totally nice guy who I've met up with in Los Angeles a couple of times. Very supportive and informative. His credits read as such:

The Express (2008)
Blood Diamond (2006)
K-PAX (2001)
The Jennie Project (TV) (2001)
The Mighty (2001)
The Sunchaser (2001)

Not amazing.

The life of a Hollywood screenwriter is a pretty horrible one. Your films are bent to the whims of whatever "gifted" artist is appointed, although I have no doubt that in no capacity were any of these films screaming to get made on the page. He has several projects in development. Not a single project of his authorship has gone through without being forced into WGA arbitration.

My favorite two stories are about The Sunchaser and Blood Diamond. He wrote The Sunchaser and another film on spec. Only The Sunchaser got made. He said that The Sunchaser was a heart-breaking wake-up call because Michael Cimino utterly botched it, and beyond that would show up to set at times wearing women's clothing. That was his introduction to Hollywood. Again: I've no doubt this script was nothing special on the page.

When I met up with Chuck the first time, he asked me what of his films I had seen. I had not seen The Express or The Jennie Project. He asked me which of his films was my favorite. I said Blood Diamond (even though I do NOT like that movie), and he agreed with me because he only hates about 50% of it, whereas most of his films by the time he is finished he hates about 75% to 80% of them. I said that I liked it but I wished that Djimon Hounsou's character was the lead character. He said in his version of the script, he was. The idea was languishing about, he took a stab at it, and to a large degree the Solomon Vandy was the lead character in the story, and he had assumed that a black actor who could carry a big budgeted film would get the part. He describes Edward Zwick as a very nice guy, but he takes whatever story he can get his hand on, changes it so that it appeals to everyone, and then tries to boot whatever writer was on the film completely off. Chuck was lucky and they found sufficient "screenplay elements" (parts of the script that a writer concocts) to warrant a screenplay credit, but apparently Zwick is fairly notorious for commandeering a project and essentially acting as an artless commercial producer who looks through the lens.

Before I met Charles, I saw a preview of Blood Diamond in Chicago in the Fall of 2006. The writing credits read TBD.




Edited By Sabin on 1288155817
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:21 pm

I had such high hopes for this one.

I should have known better. The last time Zwick directed a romantic sex comedy it was the excruciatingly bad ...About Last Night.




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Postby dws1982 » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:05 pm

Surprise, surprise! Another Edward Zwick film is highly touted and then falls on its face.

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:30 pm

Todd McCarthy appears to -- what's the word? -- HATE it.


After hiding them for years while turning out more grandiose historical and action films, director Ed Zwick’s television roots show up vividly in “Love & Other Drugs,” an enormously contrived and cloying romantic drama without a moment of believable reality to it. The appealing stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway try hard, real hard, to inject some credibility into the sexually charged relationship between a hotshot drug salesman and a heavily guarded young woman with early stage Parkinson’s disease, and the fact that they appear naked in many scenes will pique curiosity among some. But Zwick’s shtick keeps getting in the way, to the point that the film feels as much like a strained sitcom as it does a failed poignant love story.

Review continues after the jump.

Gyllenhaal, who has never appeared so cranked up onscreen before, plays Jamie, a manic ladies’ man and Pfizer rep in the mid-‘90s who ends up being the right man in the right job at the right time when Viagra hits the market. His frenzied jack rabbit lifestyle comes to a screeching halt, however, when he meets Hathaway’s Maggie, a free-spirited artist he first becomes attracted to in a “hilarious” meet-cute when, posing as a medical intern, he watches her bare a breast for a doctor’s inspection.

Driven strictly by sex, not romance, they have a hot thing going for a while and their numerous encounters, bits of which they videotape on some awesome but hitherto unknown ‘90s process with the lustrous visual quality of HD, make this one of the more explicit Hollywood features in a while. In due course, they fall in love, and the obstacles thereafter center mainly upon Maggie’s awareness of the inevitable decline that lies ahead for her; as she puts, it, “I’m going to need you more than you’re going to need me.”

If Zwick and his fellow screenwriters Charles Randolph and Marshall Herskovitz, working from a non-fiction book, “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” by Jamie Reidy, had calmed down and concentrated on the gradual transformation of a good-times guy into a selfless, monogamous mate and on the equally hesitant opening to trust on the part of a young woman who considers herself doomed, they might have had something. Instead, they make everyone pushy, hysterical and prone to yelling above everyone else to make themselves heard, spew out all the sex jokes they can think of and instruct the viewer what emotions are in store with the most heavy-handed and blatant music cues of the century thus far.

Nor could there have been worse casting of siblings than that of Gyllenhaal and Josh Gad, who are as believable playing brothers as would be Jude Law and Jonah Hill. Playing an overweight boor who’s just cashed in during the financial high times to the tune of $35 million, the uncouth dude is foisted upon his brother in the name of “comic relief,” which consists of him crashing on the couch while the noisy couple get in on in the next room and is climaxed by a scene in which Jamie catches the slob using his and Maggie’s private sex tapes for porn gratification; isn’t getting rid of embarrassing stuff like this what test screenings are for?

One gets the impression that the filmmakers are under the illusion that they’ve made something honest and bold here when, in fact, it’s as artificial and button-pushing as a primetime comedy. But less funny.

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:38 pm

Variety.

This doesn't exactly sound like an Oscar picture, especially in an actress-heavy environment.


Love & Other Drugs

By JUSTIN CHANG

A super-slick romantic comedy about a charismatic go-getter who pursues his calling and his soulmate in the unlikely world of pharmaceutical sales, "Love & Other Drugs" is snappy, saucy and, like any overzealous product-pusher, rather too eager to please. Notable for its barbed portrait of how doctors and drug companies do business, as well as an uncommon degree of sexual candor for a mainstream picture, this smartly packaged item otherwise hews closely to genre prescriptions. That bodes well for B.O. prospects, and ingratiating performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway should help sell the Fox release to the general public.

Loosely adapted from Jamie Reidy's humorous memoir, "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman," "Love & Other Drugs" qualifies as a change of pace for the usually more epic-minded Edward Zwick ("Defiance," "The Last Samurai"). Still, the film has some interesting points of contact with the director's "Blood Diamond," which similarly took aim at a corrupt global industry, represented by an ambitious young stud with a wobbly moral compass. Here, that would be Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal), a good-looking, fast-talking young man who's a chronic underachiever everywhere except between the sheets -- at least, until he lands a sales position at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

It's 1996, and the screenplay (by Zwick, Charles Randolph and Marshall Herskovitz, all credited as producers) amusingly sketches the mass commercialization of the drug industry, as Jamie and hundreds of other aspiring reps are trained to pitch products like Zoloft to doctors, some of whom require more persuasion than others. With his eye on a coveted Pfizer post in Chicago, Jamie is not above seducing a clinic receptionist (Judy Greer), sabotaging a Prozac-peddling rival (Gabriel Macht) or resorting to other unscrupulous means, often encouraged by his battle-hardened mentor (a fine Oliver Platt).

One of these tactics brings Jamie into unexpected contact with Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), who, at 26, has already been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. After an unusually punchy meet-cute -- he peeks at her bare breast during a medical exam, she wallops him with her messenger bag -- Jamie soon becomes smitten with the wry, rough-edged Maggie, who readily agrees to sleep with him but insists on maintaining an emotional distance. And so, the love of a good but sick woman helps Jamie regain his lost soul, while his steadfast devotion throws Maggie off-guard and forces her to confront her own commitment issues.

If one can get past the calculation inherent in the drug-pushing-boy-meets-disease-stricken-girl setup, "Love & Other Drugs" clicks largely because its actors do (no small feat, considering what an unhappy couple Gyllenhaal and Hathaway made in "Brokeback Mountain"). Their ribald pillow talk lends the film a verbal tartness that's complemented visually by the abundant nudity, though tasteful use of shadows and strategic camera placement still leave plenty to the imagination.

Jamie's tempestuous relationship with Maggie coincides with his, er, rising fortunes when he's tapped to sell Viagra, just as demand for the performance-enhancing drug is beginning to sweep the nation, and Zwick's unflattering snapshot of the venality of the medical establishment is fascinating, if fanciful (one hopes). But it also raises expectations of seriousness, or at least deeper satirical intent, that fizzle out as the film earnestly toes the romantic-comedy line.

There seems to be no significant development, whether it's Jamie's training at Pfizer or his tireless quest for a cure for Parkinson's, that can't be reduced to a zippy montage, and the final scenes are awash in much teary emoting and the unsubtle strains of James Newton Howard's score; even the character of Jamie's less attractive but more successful brother (an amusing Josh Gad) comes across as a stock supporting oaf. "Love & Other Drugs" is a jagged little pill that, in the end, goes down too smoothly.

That the film's treatment of Parkinson's disease feels as respectful as it does is a credit to Hathaway's sensitive, understated rendering of her character's symptoms, which appear to manifest themselves only when most convenient for the narrative. Crucially, the actress makes Maggie a vivacious presence, the sheer force of her spirit serving as a rebuke to her physical setbacks and countering the film's generally insulting view of women (who fall into three basic categories here: bimbos, opportunists and Parkinson's patients). As Jamie, the ideally cast Gyllenhaal turns on the charm full force, his energetic puppy-dog demeanor all but daring the viewer not to buy whatever he's selling.

Smoothly mounted pic was lensed in and around Pittsburgh. Soundtrack, crammed with '90s hits, seems overly determined to underscore the pic's timeframe. With: Judy Greer, Jill Clayburgh, George Segal, Kate Jennings Grant, Katheryn Winnick.

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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:32 pm

Kirk Honeycutt seemed to like it well enough.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review....m-32500
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