For all the pleasure it reportedly provides, Viagra does flirt with potential side effects, including headache, upset stomach and blurred vision. Similarly, while Love & Other Drugs offers its own pleasures, this adaptation of Jamie Reidy's Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman results in such possible side effects as irritation, frustration and disgust.
And yet, the final product is easily worth any potential pitfalls. For the most part, this is an intelligent piece in which cocky pharmaceutical salesman Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to make his mark in business while simultaneously engaging in a no-strings-attached relationship with the no-nonsense Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway). The movie is initially as light and carefree as their romance (and kudos to an American motion picture that actually isn't afraid of sex), but as their mutual commitment deepens, so does the film, with Maggie's medical misfortune — and Jake's reaction to it — resulting in some standout sequences and coaxing a knockout performance from Hathaway.
With so much going for their film, why do writer-director Edward Zwick and co-scripter Charles Randolph feel the need to occasionally cheapen it? As presented, the idiotic character of Josh Randall (Josh Gad), Jamie's odious brother, has no business being in such an otherwise mature seriocomedy, and some formulaic romcom trappings (such as an embarrassing vehicular chase) feel equally out of place. The mental and emotional stimulation caused by the majority of the picture is strong enough to recommend it, but had Zwick trimmed the flaccid passages, he could have had an awards contender on his hands.