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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Physician, heal thyself.

Love & Other Drugs on IMDb

Plot Overview

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dinnerPeanuts character Charlie Brown once remarked that there is no greater burden than a good potential. We see an instance of that at a family gathering meal. The father Dr. James Randall (George Segal) teaches medicine but doesn't practice it. His & his wife Nancy's (Jill Clayburgh) daughter Dr. Helen Randall (Natalie Gold) does practice medicine and converses on it at the table. Their younger son Josh (Josh Gad) after graduating Brown, started his own company and has just made a ton of money taking it public (“He's a geek who got lucky.”) Their elder son Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) after a lot of early grooming went to Med school but dropped out when he didn't want to be his dad's proxy success. Now he pushes “Jerry's right out of the box, second rate, knock-off, gray-market, off-brand, over­priced equipment” to unsuspecting customers. That is he did until “Jamie had a falling out with management.” Jerry caught him with his girlfriend.

loverspencilIn the course of his new job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, while shadowing a Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria) as his ersatz intern, Jamie scopes out a spider bite on the breast of twenty-six-year-old Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) come to get replacement scrip for some stolen meds. She has shaky hands. Their developing low level relations are undemanding. He, as she puts it, “pity-f_cks the sick girl” … and liking it they become “f_ck buddies.” But “then you want to spend the night, then you bring a razor, and, oh my God, it's a relation­ship.” By and by he'll refer to her as his girl­friend. The unfamiliar word love escapes their lips. There's mention of marriage. The doc advises, “Go forth, my son. Be fruitful and multiply.” Right!

speechThey attend a Parkinson's disease convention. She has early onset, which manifests itself as resting tremors with some good days and some bad. She's in stage one. They hear from speakers in various stages how they've learned to cope by not identifying them­selves with it but treating it as merely a social embar­rassment to be managed. They can still do a lot of things, but less as the disease inevitably progresses. Then at the refreshment table Jamie meets a man whose wife is in stage four:

vegetablestombstoneMy advice is to go upstairs, pack your bags, and leave a nice note. Find your­self a healthy woman. I love my wife. I do. But I wouldn't do it over again. The thing nobody tells you, this disease will steal every­thing you love in her. Her body, her smile, her mind. Sooner or later, she'll lose motor control. Eventually, she won't even be able to dress her­self. Then, the fun really begins. Cleaning up her sh!t. Frozen face. Dementia. It's not a disease, it's a Russian novel.
The Good-bye is easier said than done. As writer Phil Stong put it:
One thing he did not know was that in spite of his tough and scornful manners she adored him, and, even more important, he did not know that he could no more have left her to the lone­some world than he could have taken his heart out and tossed it into the gulch. Unrealized love is the worst-sticking kind there is. It happens and you don't notice it, but there you are. (102)
And as Swedish author Henning Mankell puts it:
the old routine … would be the backbone of his life, nothing could change that. Nobody can ask to have their life declared invalid, and demand that the dice be thrown afresh. There is no going back. The question was whether there was any way forward. (21)


We share the couple's distress trying to work it out, and the writers have done us a favor by giving us unpre­dict­able back­ground actions to practice on. A wise man did the same in, (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

“The way of an eagle in the air”—swooping suddenly on its prey—corresponds to unpredictable air transportation. They flew two hours from the heart­land of the Ohio Valley into Boston to keep an appointment with a specialist only to find them­selves rescheduled. The doctor is off at a medical convention some­where and there's nothing they can do about it. This corresponds to Maggie's relations with her previous boy­friend ex-Marine Trey Hannigan (Gabriel Macht) who lets nothing get in his way. He loves her but she doesn't love him back. His current wife is likely to out­live her anyway. Rage as much as he will, there's nothing he can do about it. It's a—pardon the pun—dead end.


“The way of a serpent upon a rock” corresponds to an image from one of Josh's porn tapes: “Did an anaconda get loose on the bed?” Jamie is promoting Pfizer's new “dick drug” Viagra, a veritable medical miracle. They do happen some­times. Josh had “Farrah [Megan Ferguson] kick me out for my indecent porn addiction.” After ten years of marriage they're having a “trial separation.” Then he has an epiphany and gives up his fantasies of meaningless sex and they're getting back together again. Perhaps unlikely in the real world but this is the movies. The sleeping snake suddenly energizes.

senior bus“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds to a bus Maggie charters to take seniors to Canada for cheap meds. It's a non-stop trip but Jamie can pull up and get the driver's attention to stop and let him have a three-minute pow wow with Maggie. At that earlier family dinner when every­one was making a commotion, Nancy was able to shout to get them to quieten down. Some­times people are able to take stock and act civilized. The ship enters calm waters.

Those were the easy ones. Jamie's “way of a man with a maid” is harder to second guess, maybe impossible. We'll leave it with American psychologist & philosopher William James (1842–1910) who wrote:

The real lesson of the genius-books is that we should welcome sensibilities, impulses, and obsessions, if we have them, so long as by their means our experience is deepened and we contribute the better to the race's stores; that we should broaden our notion of health instead of narrowing it; that we should regard no single element of weakness as fatal—in short, that we should not be afraid of life.

Production Values

” (2010) was directed by Edward Zwick. It was adapted for the screen by Charles Randolph, Marshall Herskowitz and Edward Zwick (who also directs) from Jamey Reidy's book, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. These two leads were super actors portraying a gradually developing affection they were oblivious to until confronted by reality. The other actors came through as well.

MPAA rated it R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, and some drug material. There was plenty of adult content in it. It was filmed in a recognizable Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The sets were rather cluttered, but so were their lives. The music is an easy backdrop. It was lifted from a book and is watch­able in the way an off-the-shelf out­fit is wearable though discernibly not tailored. It's better than a lot of adaptations I've seen, but still an adaptation. Runtime is 1 hour 52 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This one shows people learning family values the hard way. They emerge if one waits for them. I found it quite touching and necessarily suspenseful; there's no easy fix for them. If you can take R movies that end well, sort of, then here's one for you.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture was quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Mankell, Henning. The Man Who Smiled. Copyright © 1994 by Henning Mankell. English translation copyright © 2005 by Laurie Thompson. New York: The New Press, 2006. Print.

Stong, Phil. The Adventure of “Horse” Barnsby. Copyright © 1956 Phil Stong. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1956. Print.