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movie review love and other drugs

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"Love and Other Drugs" stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall, a pharmaceutical salesman who sells love, Zoloft, Viagra and other products with equal sincerity. He's a charmer, determined to sell his way out of Ohio and into the big Chicago market, and if that involves flirting with the receptionists in doctors' offices, it's a tough job but somebody's got to do it.

The movie takes place at that point in the 1990s when Viagra was tumescing in the marketplace, and Jamie is riding the success of his employer, Pfizer. He infiltrates hospitals, befriends doctors, pushes drugs and sabotages the best efforts of his aggressive rival Trey Hannigan ( Gabriel Macht ), whose product Prozac is outselling Zoloft. Whether these products, or any of their products, works very well is not a concern of the salesmen. They sell.

James is egged on by his supervisor Bruce Winston ( Oliver Platt ), and it seems quite possible he'll make it to Chicago when his life makes an unexpected course correction. He's buddies with Dr. Stan Knight ( Hank Azaria ), who introduces him as his intern and allows him to observe as he palpitates the breast of his lovely patient Maggie Murdock ( Anne Hathaway ). Strictly speaking, doctors aren't supposed to do that. Maggie discovers the fraud, and in the course of an argument with Jamie about it they both grow so passionate that, well, they rip off each other's clothes and fall upon a bed in a confusion of sheets and moans.

Maggie and Jamie discover that they really, really like each other. She has something she wants to tell him. She is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. This introduces an unexpected note into what seemed to be a screwball comedy. Hathaway brings such tenderness and solemnity to her role that she moves the film away from comedy and toward “ Love Story ,” and from then on, we never quite know where we're headed.

The emotional tug-of-war intensifies because of the presence of Jamie's brother Josh ( Josh Gad ), who seems to have been imported directly from an odd buddy movie. Josh is helpless in the area of appropriate behavior, seems to have selected his wardrobe in high school for the rest of his life, has made millions of dollars in the markets and has a disastrous personal life. Although he could buy a hotel, he lacks the skill or the courage to check into one and seems intent on living for the rest of his life on the sofa in Jamie's small apartment.

That would be permissible in another kind of movie. Not in this one, where matters grow serious between the two lovers — so serious, indeed, that they begin to discuss how their love will prevail through the difficult road ahead. The movie gives full weight and attention to the subject of Parkinson's and doesn't trivialize it or make jokes (how could it?).

But the more weight the story of Maggie and Jamie takes on, the more distracting is the screenplay's need to intercut updates on the pharmaceutical wars. Nor do we continue to care much about Bruce and Trey. The movie's most effective single scene occurs at a meeting of people with Parkinson's and their loved ones. The husband of a victim describes to Jamie in stark, realistic detail the possible course of the disease and how it may affect the woman he loves. After this scene, the movie has definitively introduced a note that makes the rest seem trivial.

The director is Edward Zwick , a considerable filmmaker. He's essentially working with a screenplay (by Charles Randolph , Marshall Herskovitz and himself) that doesn't work. Given that problem, you have to observe that he is a capable filmmaker even in bad weather. He obtains a warm, lovable performance from Anne Hathaway and dimensions from Gyllenhaal that grow from comedy to the serious. The scene with the husband of the Parkinson's survivor has a simple grandeur. As a filmmaker by nature, Zwick gives that scene its full weight, no matter that it's not a good fit in his movie. That counts for something.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, pervasive language and some drug material

112 minutes

Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie

Anne Hathaway as Maggie

Oliver Platt as Bruce

Hank Azaria as Dr. Knight

Josh Gad as Josh

Gabriel Macht as Trey

Directed by

  • Edward Zwick
  • Charles Randolph
  • Marshall Herskovitz

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Love & Other Drugs Reviews

movie review love and other drugs

Even with its average runtime, the movie feels overlong, as the story has far too many distracting, underdeveloped subplots when all it needed to do was explore the relationship at the center.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Aug 3, 2023

movie review love and other drugs

Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway have never been better. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Aug 8, 2022

movie review love and other drugs

What pulls the film through is the impressive acting.

Full Review | Oct 12, 2021

movie review love and other drugs

The battle of wits and emotions remains fresh thanks to brazen, provocative, and cleverly insightful exchanges by the two very capable leads.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Nov 30, 2020

movie review love and other drugs

The recently deceased Jill Clayburgh and George Segal are a delight.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.0/4.0 | Sep 15, 2020

movie review love and other drugs

The film does not support its talent, with its uneven tone and over the top comedy and melodrama.

Full Review | Original Score: B- | Aug 12, 2020

movie review love and other drugs

Part romantic comedy, part satire, part disease flick, this is a film that can't seem to decide what it wants to be, and ultimately fails despite two pretty likable leads.

Full Review | Original Score: C- | May 8, 2019

Even though it's a dog's breakfast... the chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, two of the most watchable movie stars on the planet, makes it a guilty treat.

Full Review | Mar 27, 2019

movie review love and other drugs

Its attempts to equally appeal to both male and female audiences come across as fragmented. Nevertheless, Hathaway deserves kudos for her sensitive portrayal amidst all the excessively gratuitous shots and crudeness.

Full Review | Feb 16, 2019

Love and Other Drugs is neither an aphrodisiac nor an expose. Its emotional reach is beyond its grasp, but if you're in the mood for seeing two likable, good-looking people come together, break apart, reunite and so forth, it will suffice.

Full Review | Original Score: B- | Feb 16, 2019

movie review love and other drugs

Hathaway creates a tough, angry, complicated woman who deserved better than her lot in life. For starters. she deserved a better movie.

Full Review | May 3, 2015

movie review love and other drugs

Love and Other Drugs isn't a perfect film, and Zwick has certainly done better, but for what it is, it's mostly watchable and fairly enjoyable.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Nov 9, 2013

movie review love and other drugs

This movie is far from your standard romantic comedy. It's a deeper film that touches on heavier emotional moments.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Oct 14, 2013

movie review love and other drugs

Zwick and his writing partners, Marshall Herskovitz and Charles Randolph, overextend their scope by a wide margin.

Full Review | Original Score: B- | May 26, 2013

movie review love and other drugs

Lacks a certain something, but not chemistry between Jake and Anne. They set off real sparks.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Jan 27, 2013

Charismatic turns from its two stars provide the heartbeat for the movie, which resembles director Edward Zwick's TV show thirtysomething with its insight into male/female intimacy.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jul 14, 2011

There were several potential avenues to develop here, but the film settles for something conventional and sentimental with its love story.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/10 | Apr 8, 2011

Can he love her when her illness degenerates? Can she let him in even though she's scared? Will he always work for the people who are actually making her life more difficult? You're allowed not to care.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Apr 4, 2011

movie review love and other drugs

The movie has lots of scenes of the two leads in bed together, but it can't decide whether it's a big issue film, a romantic comedy or a weepy melodrama, so it ends up being none of them successfully.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4 | Mar 13, 2011

Strange how for a movie about a Viagra salesman, we don't see the growth of the characters.

Full Review | Original Score: C- | Mar 9, 2011

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Love and other drugs: film review.

Edward Zwick's "Love and Other Drugs," an offbeat romantic drama set in the world of pharmaceutical sales, plays at times like a patient who has gone off his meds.

By Kirk Honeycutt

Kirk Honeycutt

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The energy is far too great — manic even — at the beginning but calms down for a while to focus on the highly competitive but not always ethical arena of drug sales, then gets distracted by unusually bold sex scenes for a studio picture only to wander off into the cultural phenomenon of Viagra before the movie decides it’s a romance after all and so concludes in a highly conventional final embrace. The movie’s got ADD like you wouldn’t believe.

At its core, “ Love and Other Drugs ” has solid romance credentials and two very photogenic leads in the at times scarcely clothed Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. So the film should gain box-office traction when it opens Thanksgiving weekend with young adults as its primary draw.

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Perhaps the problem stems from the film’s development process. Writer-producer Charles Randolph pitched a project based on the nonfiction book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” by Jamie Reidy about a hot-shot Pfizer salesman navigating the pharmaceutical industry of the late ’90s. Eventually, Zwick and his longtime writing/producing partner Marshall Herskovitz came aboard to create an interesting case of sexual combustion between a healthy yet emotionally constricted man and a woman with medical challenges. The world of the film could just as easily have been Wall Street, a fashion magazine or life on the road firing people to evoke a few recent movies. Yet the pharmaceutical business proves too new to films for Zwick, a filmmaker who is really interested in how things tick, to resist a deep plunge into unfamiliar territory.

So the life of a drug salesman nearly swamps his love story. But it doesn’t, at least not entirely.

Gyllenhaal’s Jamie Randall is a born salesmen and seducer, first seen charming patrons, preferably women, at an electronics store in 1996. However, his inability to keep his pants zipped loses this job for him. Coming to his rescue is his rich geek brother, played by Josh Gad, in a role that runs throughout the movie but is never necessary other than delivering a few gross-out moments in a misguided attempt to attract male teens.

The younger brother guides him into a training program and eventually a job at Pfizer, which relocates him to an Eastern city as a drug rep working under a veteran salesman (Oliver Platt). (The movie was shot in Pittsburgh.) In his charm-and-guile siege of Dr. Knight’s (Hank Azaria) medical office, Jamie encounters a patient, Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), with whom he has an emotional kinship: Both use casual sex as an escape from the utter shallowness and insincerity of their lives. It’s their drug of choice.

Maggie has to take other drugs, too, as she has early-onset Parkinson’s disease. The movie all but ignores this for a while, letting the two get to enjoy better and better recreational sex while refusing to acknowledge they care for one another in the slightest.

When they do fall into the most reluctant love you can imagine — the best humor in the film comes in the couple’s real fear and loathing of this fact — then Parkinson’s moves front and center as a major player in the drama. Zwick’s movie never descends into a disease-of-the-week melodrama, but Jamie’s search for a cure is more about his fear of the future for himself, not his lover.

So finally the film finds its story. And then things become shockingly conventional, dipping into a break-up and the heartache you’ve seen a million times over.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are terrific as two sarcastic, sexually hungry young people eager to hop into bed, or go up against the nearest wall for a knee-trembler. Sappy romance doesn’t suit either of their characters so something goes a little limp when they acknowledge their love. Where a Viagra salesman when you need him?

The artist’s loft, coffee house, restaurants, late night cafes, medical offices and a sleek suburban home to a “pajama party” where the film takes place are all eye grabbers and Steven Fierberg’s cinematography does justice to these visually arresting locations. Much is going on in nearly every scene. Even a running gag about a homeless man who digs drug samples out of a dumpster where Jamie throws his rival’s products is damn funny.

In the end, this is a smart movie that could have been smarter. The script feels like it was a draft or so away from total clarity and focus. But the energy of the cast and a dive into an unfamiliar world make the movie rather addictive.

Opens: Nov. 24 (20th Century Fox) Production companies: Fox 2000 Pictures and New Regency Enterprises present a New Regency/Stuber Pictures/Bedford Falls production Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Gabriel Macht, Josh Gad, Judy Greer, George Segal, Jill Clayburgh Director: Edward Zwick Screenwriters: Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz Based on a book by: Jamie Reidy Producers: Charles Randolph, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Scott Stuber, Pieter Jan Brugge Executive producers: Arnon Milchan, Margaret Riley Director of photography: Steven Fierberg Production designer: Patti Podesta Music: James Newton Howard Costume designer: Deborah L. Scott Editor: Steven Rosenblum Rated R, 113 minutes

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'Love And Other Drugs': A Worthy Prescription

David Edelstein

movie review love and other drugs

Anne Hathaway plays Maggie, a patient with early-onset Parkinson's disease, who falls for Jaime, a Viagra drug rep played by Jake Gyllenhaal, in Love and Other Drugs . David James/20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises hide caption

Love And Other Drugs

  • Director: Edward Zwick
  • Genre: Comedy/Drama
  • Running Time:112 minutes

With: Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Judy Greer

Watch A Clip

'This Is Nice'

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Love and Other Drugs is brash and manic and sexy, then grim and weepy and self-consciously inspirational. It's madly uneven. But it's also one of the few romantic movies in the past few years with strong and insightful satirical undertones.

It's set in 1996, which wasn't quite the dawn of our psychopharmacological era -- though it was certainly the morning -- and Big Pharma sales-dude Jamie Randall, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is an early riser. He's a supple, smooth-faced, blue-eyed cutie whom women fall for even when they know that his ingenuousness is an act: It's more winning than other men's genuine ingenuousness.

Under the tutelage of a company mentor played by Oliver Platt , Jamie gets more and more accomplished at sweet-talking physicians and receptionists. His goal is to get doctors to prescribe his antidepressant, Zoloft, instead of his even slicker competitor's Prozac.

Even set in the past, the first half of Love and Other Drugs is a state-of-the-art zeitgeist sex comedy, and it's even more of a kick when Jamie's company comes out with the Holy Grail: Viagra. Suddenly, he doesn't have to labor to get physicians' attention. He's the most popular guy in town.

Not that Jamie needs the drug. He has sex all the time and no particular hankering for a relationship. But one woman brings him up short, an artist named Maggie Murdock, played by Anne Hathaway. They meet cute, or cute-slash-icky: He pays a doctor played by Hank Azaria to let him pretend to be an intern to observe how physicians operate, and Maggie is a patient with early-onset Parkinson's disease. She's furious when she discovers what Jamie really does -- but he bugs her until she meets him for a date.

movie review love and other drugs

Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal, right) gets fed up with living with his younger brother (Josh Gad). Ron Batzdorff/20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises hide caption

Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal, right) gets fed up with living with his younger brother (Josh Gad).

Soon, they're in her apartment, frantically removing clothes, and there's no getting around it: Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are beautiful specimens. Once or twice they're buck-naked, which is the film's come-on. They're even on the cover of Entertainment Weekly without their shirts.

Director Edward Zwick made his name with the TV series thirtysomething and then moved on to Oscar-bait war movies. With Love and Other Drugs , he's rediscovered his inner Jason Reitman. Like Reitman's charismatically irresponsible protagonists in Thank You For Smoking and Up in the Air , Zwick's Jamie must develop a social conscience and learn to love.

The film's tone turns darker, as you know it will: It doesn't take much to see that Maggie is so tart and commitment-averse because she has a degenerative disease. And Jamie, though he desperately tries to help her, is powerless. He watches Maggie shepherd elderly men and women in a bus back and forth from Canada, where they can fill their prescriptions at a fraction of the prices set in the U.S., and he realizes that, as a drug rep, he's a cog in a machine he can't fully trust.

I think the movie would have been more on point if Maggie were depressed instead of afflicted with Parkinson's. With a more defined illness, the movie is on the soapy side. The surprise goes out of it, and the air, too. Hathaway is impressive in the first half, hard in a way that subtly signals her vulnerability. But in the second half, Zwick should have dialed her down.

In the end, half the audience will be drying their eyes and the other half rolling them. I was mostly in the latter camp, yet I like the movie's scope. It should also be said that romantic-comic weepers are drugs, too, and for all the mood swings this one induces, I feel reasonably confident prescribing it.

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Love and Other Drugs

By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal are hotties with talent. And they maneuver through the daunting maze of shifting tones and intersecting plots of Love and Other Drugs like the pros they are. Gyllenhaal plays Jamie, a horndog pharmaceutical salesman during the late 1990’s rise of Viagra. Hathaway is Maggie, a free-spited artist diagnosed with stage-one Parkinson’s disease. They click, laugh, get naked, get angry, hold back tears, get naked again.

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Director Ed Zwick, who co-wrote the script with frequent partner Marshall Herskovitz (remember Thirtysomething ?) and Charles Randolph, seems to be flying around in futility trying to find a place to land. I hated the subplot with Jamie’s rich bore of a brother (Josh Gad), but liked the stuff with his parents, played by George Segal and the luminous Jill Clayburgh (in her last screen role). This movie is best treated like dim sum. Wait out the bad portions until a tastier dish is served. Let Hathaway be your guide. She’s a dynamo and just the no-bull actress to hold off the floodgates of puking sentimentality. Loosely based on Jamie Reidy’s memoir, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman , the movie shamelessly resorts to the theme of terminal illness that’s been propping up Hollywood romances since Camille morphed into Love Story . If you think Hathaway and Gyllenhaal are worth watching in anything, try Love and Other Drugs . It puts that theory to the test.

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Love And Other Drugs Review

Love And Other Drugs

29 Dec 2010

112 minutes

Love And Other Drugs

The love is regular and enthusiastically made; the drugs are blue and diamond-shaped. Rom-com this may be, but it’s not for those who like their romances accompanied by sassy gay best friends and changing room montages. Love And Other Drugs stamps itself as a grown-up romantic comedy almost straight away by making it clear that its leads don’t just make love in dusky lighting to some simpering pop ballad; they fuck. Repeatedly and with gusto. No L-shaped sheets. No discreet cutting away to a moonlit skyline. Honestly, it’s nips-a-go-go until well into act two.

But that works. It’s real, and it makes it wholly believable that Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), a drug rep fixed on making lots of money and whoopee, and Maggie (Anne Hathaway), the world’s snarkiest waitress, with early-onset Parkinson’s, are two attractive people who might fall into a relationship together by way of the bed, fall inconveniently in love, but possibly fall apart before the closing credits. The she’s-sick-he’s-a-bastard set-up is pure Dying Young, but it never resorts to sickbed glamour. It’s far more interested in two people trying to ignore their physical or emotional disabilities.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are fantastic together, fizzing chemistry all over the shop. He’s puffed up with arrogance, but has the charm to pull it off, and she is becoming the most versatile commercial actress of her time, capable of charming in pretty much any role. It’s surprising to see that the film is directed by Ed Zwick, and not just because the scenery’s nothing spectacular and nobody’s doing a silly accent. Zwick has become a director of epics, but this is about intimacy, nailing the minutiae of a growing relationship, the moments you realise you’re in love, the moments you can’t be bothered and the things you never want to show.

It’s got ambition. Based on Jamie Reidy’s book about the rise (pun only partially intended) of Viagra, it starts to tell that story alongside its central romance as Jamie begins selling the drug and realises all his dreams have come at once (honestly, that one was an accident). That’s a funny side-plot, but ends up tailing off to nowhere. It’s got big narrative goals, but too little time to meet them all.

The film flounders in its final stages. After doing so much to be unusual it reverts to cliché, winding up with a big neat bow that was much more interesting as a tangle.

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Love and Other Drugs

Details: 2010, USA, Cert 15, 112 mins

Direction: Edward Zwick

Genre: Comedy / Romance

Summary: Maggie, an alluring free spirit, meets her match in Jamie and their evolving relationship takes them both by surprise

With: Anne Hathaway ,  Gabriel Macht ,  Hank Azaria ,  Jake Gyllenhaal ,  Josh Gad ,  Judy Greer and Oliver Platt

Peter Bradshaw

Salesman Jake Gyllenhaal and Parkinson's victim Anne Hathaway star in a cynical, dishonest romcom. By Peter Bradshaw

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movie review love and other drugs

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movie review love and other drugs

  • DVD & Streaming

Love & Other Drugs

  • Comedy , Drama , Romance

Content Caution

movie review love and other drugs

In Theaters

  • November 24, 2010
  • Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall; Anne Hathaway as Maggie Murdock; Josh Gad as Josh Reidy; Oliver Platt as Bruce Jackson; Hank Azaria as Dr. Knight

Home Release Date

  • March 1, 2011
  • Edward Zwick


  • 20th Century Fox

Movie Review

Growing up, some folks want to be doctors. Some want to be lawyers.

Jamie … he just wanted to be a jerk.

He knew it’d be tough. Sure, he had some raw, natural ability: The charm to seduce women between “Hello” and “Check, please,” the sensitivity of a blacksmith anvil and the loyalty of an elk in heat. But he knows that to achieve superjerk status—to rack up the number of transient affairs and cause the number of emotional breakdowns he’d need to become a Hall of Fame heel—he’ll need to work hard.

And so he does, honing his abilities at a number of odd, occasionally lucrative jobs until he finally lands in the pharmaceutical sales business—a career that, in the film’s eyes, can truly leverage his talents. Both Jamie and the drugs in question are geared toward giving folks some temporary relief from what ails them. And if the effects are gone the next morning … well, that’s their nature, right?

Jamie’s brain is filled with rapid-fire sales pitches; his briefcase with high-powered drugs. It’s tough going at first, but once he starts selling an upstart product—a little blue pill called Viagra—he becomes the most popular pharmaceutical rep around. Doctors can’t get enough of the stuff. And, incidentally, neither can their patients.

Better yet, Jamie’s found the perfect casual relationship with Maggie, a beautiful artist who has no interest in intimacy but a lot of interest in sex. It’s like having a “friend with benefits,” only without the whole bothersome “friend” part.

Positive Elements

All of that sets Jamie up for the time that he begins to wonder whether the “benefits” he’s been reaping are, perhaps, a little overblown. Maybe there’s something (gulp) cool about being “friends,” he thinks. About drawing close with another human being. And so he begins to ponder whether or not it’s too late to switch career tracks—from jerk to genuine.

Maggie, we learn from the get-go, has early onset Parkinson’s disease. There’s no cure for it, and Jamie knows that, eventually, she’ll be incapacitated by it. Despite advice to the contrary, though, he sticks by her, even when the thought of caring for her terrifies him. For a time it looks as though he will leave her—but he can’t stay away. He finally tells her that, whatever the future holds, he’ll be there with her. Even if they could trade places with another Jamie and Maggie in a parallel world, he say he wouldn’t: “I want us. You. This.”

Never mind the mindless sex on display, Love & Other Drugs seems to say, We’re all placing too much emphasis on sex these days. The message is muddled by its surroundings, but it’s there nonetheless. One sex-addled doctor who mooches Viagra samples from Jamie confesses, “This profession for me was a higher calling—make people’s lives better. [Now] look at me.”

Sexual Content

For a good chunk of the film, Jamie and Maggie seem to be in a constant state of lovemaking. They smash into cabinets, writhe on the floor, pant and moan, engage in oral sex and loudly express their orgasmic responses. Audiences see both of them completely naked. (Only their pubic regions escape the frame.)

It’s pretty explicit stuff, and it’s not just moviegoers who get an eyeful. When Jamie’s brother, Josh, starts bunking with Jamie at his apartment, Maggie walks in and accidentally disrobes in front of him. Later, after Maggie and Jamie tape one of their sexual escapades, Josh finds it and watches it. It’s implied that he masturbates while doing so. And he spends the rest of the film making crude comments about his brother’s anatomy.

Jamie has sex with several other people, too. We see him with one woman in a store’s back room. (She explicitly asks him to do certain sexual things to her.) He’s with another in bed. And he cavorts with two women simultaneously at an adult “pajama party.” (All three are shown naked.)

Jamie suffers prolonged arousal after taking Viagra. Hiding the “results” under a pillow. Before he gets to the hospital, Josh smacks him in the crotch several times. Then he opens his robe so that the hospital attendant (and the camera) can see the erection through his boxer shorts.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s brother has sex with a woman at the pajama party. (We see her breasts.) And he jokes about Jamie giving him oral sex. Other jokes and conversations, some of them graphic, revolve around intercourse, masturbation, manual stimulation, sexual roll-playing, pornography, incest, homosexuality, infidelity, impotency and the affects of Viagra.

Maggie’s breast exam at a hospital gets screen time. Two women kiss in a hot tub. Dancers, representing the drug company Pfizer at a corporate gathering, prance about in revealing, cheerleader-type outfits.

Violent Content

Jamie and a rival get into a fight. Jamie gets punched in the gut and hits the guy in the jaw—injuring his hand. He smacks Josh’s head with a pornographic videotape. And he comes away with a bloody nose after brawling with a store manager. Maggie hits Jamie with a bag several times.

Jamie mentions to a Pfizer representative that one of the company’s drugs is suspected of causing teens to think more about suicide—a train of thought the representative simply shrugs aside.

Crude or Profane Language

At least 40 f-words, more than 30 s-words, lots of coarse slang for various body parts and a smattering of other profanities including “b‑‑ch,” “b‑‑tard” and “h‑‑‑.” God’s name is misused about 20 times; a half-dozen times it’s paired with “d‑‑n.” There are close to 10 abuses of Jesus’ name. An obscene gesture is made.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Jamie, in an effort to get a leg up on his competition, stocks doctors’ shelves with Pfizer antidepressants and tosses samples from rival companies in a nearby dumpster. A homeless man gets wise to the ruse and takes the trashed tablets—eventually asking Jamie whether he has any more. Jamie says the man can take what he wants. People ask Jamie to supply them with Viagra samples under the table, and Josh asks Jamie for an antidepressant after he has a particularly difficult day.

Maggie is a self-proclaimed medication “whore” who takes several different drugs to keep her Parkinson’s under control and alleviate the associated depression. When she runs out of a particular drug, she resorts to a bottle of booze, pouring herself glass after glass.

She and Jamie compare the ages when both of them went on Ritalin. She and Jamie and Josh all appear to smoke marijuana at various points. Jamie touts the benefits of watching TV while getting high. “If you’re stoned, it’ll blow your mind,” he says.

A doctor injects his own exposed buttocks with testosterone. Characters drink wine, beer and mixed drinks, often at bars.

Other Negative Elements

Jamie cheats to get an advantage over his competitors, lies to his mother to make himself sound better and uses subterfuge to get women to sleep with him (or perform other favors). A really rude, self-deprecating joke is told about women who have Parkinson’s.

At the pajama party, Josh has sex with a beautiful guest and leaves the gathering practically glowing—but not for the reason you might suspect. After spending a lifetime longing for casual sex (and idolizing his brother who finds it far more readily), he learns that sex, in and of itself, is pretty worthless.

“If I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t have known how much I didn’t want it,” he says.

This, at its core, is the difficulty of Love & Other Drugs . It tells us that love and relationship are far better than casual sex. But it forces us—all of us—to voyeuristically experience lots and lots of the titillating, “non-important” stuff before we get the message.

That makes this an immoral morality tale for folks with no self-control. Once we get all that pesky carnal desire out of the way, it says, we can concentrate on what’s really important. You can find true love, it says, by trying out a lot of false sex.

When it came to dessert, as a kid I used to think along the same sort of lines: If I ate enough chocolate cake, I’d eventually get tired of it and crave, I dunno, some green beans.

There’s some truth embedded in there—but there’s also a reason why this philosophy never really caught on with my parents—or pediatricians around the globe. I would have eventually gotten sick of chocolate cake. But by the time I hit my limit of fudge frosting, my teeth would’ve all fallen out and I would’ve looked like Jabba the Hutt.

No, the truth is, there are multitudes of reasons why, from time immemorial, we’ve saved dessert for last … and we’ve saved sex for marriage. Society has, it seems, largely forgotten these reasons. And, by extension, so has this film.

The Plugged In Show logo

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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Love and Other Drugs (United States, 2010)

Love and Other Drugs Poster

Edward Zwick is probably best known for his work on television. Along with Marshall Herkovitz, he was a driving force behind two long-running TV series ( thirtySomething and Once and Again ). He was also an important contributor to many others (including My So-Called Life and Family ). In between his television endeavors, Zwick has found the time to direct ten feature films, the majority of which vary from "good" to "excellent." Love and Other Drugs represents the first time since his early big-screen ventures that Zwick has brought the same kind of relationship-centered dramatic comedy approach to a motion picture. The result, bolstered by strong acting and an intriguing back story, is an unqualified success. Love and Other Drugs may be the most honest romance to grace the screens during all of 2010.

The movie transpires between 1996 and 1999 - a period in American society when the word "Viagra" entered the lexicon. Patented by Pfizer in 1996 and approved by the FDA in 1998, Viagra became not merely another drug on the market, but the drug for many Americans, whether they needed it as a helper for erectile dysfunction or whether they were looking for an injection of pizzazz into their sex life. Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) starts out a career as a Pfizer rep during this time frame. Initially, he has difficulties meeting his quotas, much to the chagrin of his veteran partner, Bruce Winston (Oliver Platt). Then Viagra hits the market and Jamie becomes an instant star whose newest product is desired by the horny, influential Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria). Meanwhile, Jamie embarks upon a relationship with one of Dr. Knight's patients, the impulsive, brittle Maggie (Anne Hathaway). At age 26, she has experienced early onset Parkinson's and, as a defense mechanism, she has walled herself off from serious relationships. Jamie is determined to breach those walls, but the task may defeat even his glib tongue and confident ways.

The first thing one notices about Love and Other Drugs is that it's an adult romance. So many current love stories are targeted at teenagers that it's rare to find one that sidesteps the numerous contrivances that permeate the genre. Love and Other Drugs presents an honest, sometimes brutal chronicle of a complicated relationship. There are no "meet cutes" or romantic complications. The issues encountered by Jamie and Maggie are those faced by many couples where emotional openness is a barrier and where the sickness of one partner creates a commitment imbalance. And, although Maggie's Parkinson's is a factor, this is by no means a "disease of the week" motion picture. It avoids the cloying, artificial sentimentality of a Terms of Endearment .

Love and Other Drugs has an unfettered view of sexuality. It's part of the human experience and is treated as such, especially since it's the initial strand that binds Jamie and Maggie. Zwick has a specific approach to the characters' nudity, and it's not based (exclusively) on titillation. There's a lot of flesh early in their interaction, during the "Honeymoon phase." Later, as the characters' focus shifts from physical to emotional, instances of nudity becomes uncommon. There is an inverse relationship between physical nakedness and emotional nakedness.

One element of the story that doesn't work as effectively as it might have is a satirical airing of the drug industry's dirty laundry. Although there are insights into how things work, none are especially surprising (especially to a cynic like me) and rarely does the screenplay bare its fangs. To the extent that Love and Other Drugs is intended to make a statement about the amorality of the pharmaceutical industry (bus trips to Canada) and the way in which it manipulates doctors and patients (Knight's demand for giving preferential treatment to Zoloft over Prozac), it succeeds only partially. The movie works better on a human level than as the bearer of a message.

As has been Zwick's trademark on TV, although not necessarily in movies, drama and comedy are entwined. There are times when the relationship between Jamie and Maggie plays out like a romantic comedy and occasions when it has a closer kinship to a tragedy. The tonal shifts are expertly handled and never seem awkward. The one character who is on hand primarily for comedic purposes, Jamie's younger brother, Josh (Josh Gad), also makes one of the most insightful observations.

Working together for the second time as romantic partners (after Brokeback Mountain ), Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway show sufficient passion and chemistry for viewers to believe in them as a couple and be invested in the fates of their characters. Both are underrated actors, and Love and Other Drugs illustrates the breadth and depth of their abilities. Hathaway in particular has been saddled with baggage dating back to her early career, but the growth she has shown as an actress in recent years enriches this performance and allows her to give Maggie multiple dimensions. Gyllenhaal's Jamie, although less complex, is as fully realized.

Zwick's resume sparkles with more hits than misses, so it should come as little surprise that, despite mediocre marketing, Love and Other Drugs is a solid entry into a lackluster end-of-the-year season. (And the comparisons to Up in the Air are imprecise - it's not nearly that incisive, but it has a bigger heart.) Regardless of whether or not this becomes a player in the Oscar game, the movie is worth seeing for anyone who cares about a love story that isn't geared for those who are still struggling with the immediate aftereffects of puberty.

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"naked truth".

movie review love and other drugs

What You Need To Know:

(PaPa, C, B, LLL, V, SSS, NN, A, DD, MM) Strong pagan worldview, mitigated by some moral, redemptive elements at the end stressing strong commitment, sacrifice and love in the face of debilitating disease; at least 63 obscenities and profanities (including several strong profanities); excessive sexual content includes frank discussions of sex, lead characters have several torrid sex scenes, male lead’s brother caught abusing himself while watching sex tape of leads, and man wakes up in bed with two women; lead characters are naked in several scenes, full-body but no images of private parts, rear nudity, upper female nudity, and male lead is seen with upper male nudity in several other scenes, including waking up with two naked women after a one-night stand threesome; light violence when two men fistfight humorously and woman angrily hits man with purse; some alcohol use; smoking marijuana; and, lying and deception are shown as key to being a good salesman.

More Detail:

The romantic comedy/drama LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS offers an extremely mixed bag for media-wise, discerning filmgoers. It features some of the most extensive nudity and frequent sex scenes of any mainstream major Hollywood release in years, while ultimately offering a powerful testament to love and commitment, in the face of caring for someone with a debilitating disease that can’t be cured.

The movie opens by following the exploits of ladies’ man Jamie (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) as he enters the fast-paced, highly lucrative world of pharmaceutical sales amid the mid-1990s boom times of Zoloft and Viagra. This opening establishes early on that Jamie’s constantly in pursuit of his next sexual conquest. Jamie is also constantly scamming his way from one sale to the next, particularly pursuing the business of a doctor (Hank Azaria) who finds he needs Jamie’s Viagra in order to keep up his own promiscuous lifestyle.

Jamie meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway) through the doctor, as she comes in for the extensive prescriptions needed to fight her rare case of early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. The two immediately engage in a heated relationship that she insists on keeping casual because she’s afraid of ever burdening a man with her lifelong care. After many complications, Jamie learns to tame his wild ways and convinces Maggie that he will always be by her side, even if he someday has to carry her everywhere she goes.

LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS features enormously appealing performances from Gyllenhaal and Hathaway, despite the fact they are nude or in various states of undress throughout much of the movie. While there are plot holes, such as the film not offering an explanation of how an artist like Maggie is able to afford a huge loft or has wads of cash at the ready for her medication, its dialogue is funny and its plot zips masterfully through the unique milieu of pharmaceutical sales. The movie is particularly strong in its ability to shift tones as the film takes a serious, emotional turn towards the end. [SPOILER ALERT] The final scene, in which Maggie confesses her fears of being a burden on even a life partner and Jamie convincingly swears his lifelong love and care for her, is a masterful moment that offers far more depth than most Hollywood depictions of relationships. While the sexual frankness in the other parts of the movie will no doubt turn away most moviegoers, the message at the end is commendable.

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Based on 20 parent reviews

To explicit

Report this review, an excellent romantic film with perfect balance of love, sexuality and drama.

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Not suitable for people under 15.

Love & other drugs, love,love,love,love,love,love,love,love, not a teen movie.

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Modified & Updated: 28 Jan 2024

Published: 20 Dec 2023

Modified: 28 Jan 2024


Love and Other Drugs is a captivating romantic comedy that takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Released in 2010, the film was directed by Edward Zwick and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in lead roles, delivering stellar performances that leave a lasting impact. Set in the late 1990s, Love and Other Drugs explores the budding relationship between Jamie Randall, a charming pharmaceutical salesman, and Maggie Murdock, a free-spirited woman living with Parkinson’s disease. This article delves into the fascinating world of Love and Other Drugs, uncovering 47 interesting facts that will make you fall in love with the movie even more. From behind-the-scenes trivia to memorable moments on screen, get ready to dive into the enchanting world of Love and Other Drugs.

Love and Other Drugs is based on the book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” by Jamie Reidy.

The movie takes inspiration from the real-life experiences of a former Pfizer sales representative.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the role of Jamie Randall, a charming and ambitious pharmaceutical salesman.

Gyllenhaal’s performance earned him critical acclaim for his portrayal of a self-destructive womanizer who finds love amidst his professional struggles.

Anne Hathaway takes on the role of Maggie Murdock, a young woman suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Hathaway’s performance received praise for her ability to depict the emotional and physical challenges faced by Parkinson’s patients.

The film explores the controversial pharmaceutical industry.

Love and Other Drugs delves into the world of drug marketing and the ethical dilemmas faced by sales representatives in promoting prescription medications.

The movie combines elements of romance, drama, and comedy.

This genre-blending approach adds depth and humor to the storyline, captivates audiences, and keeps them engaged throughout.

Love and Other Drugs received mixed reviews from critics.

While some praised its performances and chemistry between the lead actors, others felt the film was inconsistent in tone and lacked depth.

The movie includes several intimate scenes between Gyllenhaal and Hathaway.

These scenes challenged both actors to bring vulnerability and authenticity to their performances while depicting the complexities of a relationship affected by disease.

Love and Other Drugs explores the effects of Parkinson’s disease on the characters’ lives.

The film sheds light on the physical and emotional toll the degenerative neurological disorder takes on Maggie, her family, and her romantic relationships.

The soundtrack of Love and Other Drugs features a mix of contemporary and classic songs.

The music enhances the film’s emotional impact and adds another layer to the storytelling.

The movie tackles themes of love, commitment, and the quest for personal fulfillment.

It explores the transformative power of love and how it can inspire individuals to change and grow.

Love and Other Drugs was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.

The film received nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Gyllenhaal and Hathaway’s performances.

Edward Zwick’s direction creates a visually appealing and immersive experience for the audience.

His keen attention to detail and ability to capture the characters’ emotions elevates the overall quality of the film.

The movie features supporting performances from actors such as Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, and Josh Gad.

They add depth and humor to the story, complementing the performances of the lead actors.

Love and Other Drugs explores the concept of self-discovery and personal growth.

Through their tumultuous relationship, Jamie and Maggie learn to confront their fears, embrace vulnerability, and find a deeper sense of purpose.

The film challenges societal norms and stereotypes surrounding illness and sexuality.

It addresses the stigma associated with diseases like Parkinson’s and portrays characters who defy societal expectations.

Love and Other Drugs takes place in the late 1990s.

The film captures the essence of the era, including its fashion, cultural references, and technological advancements.

The chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway shines on-screen.

Their natural rapport and convincing performances help to further convey the complexity of their characters’ relationship.

Love and Other Drugs combines moments of heartache with moments of humor.

The film strikes a delicate balance between emotional depth and light-heartedness, creating a rollercoaster of emotions for the audience.

The movie portrays the challenges faced by those in the pharmaceutical industry.

It highlights the pressure to meet sales targets, the ethical conflicts, and the continuous demand for innovation and competitiveness.

Love and Other Drugs explores the concept of love as a transformative force.

It shows how love can push individuals to confront their inner demons, embrace vulnerability, and find redemption.

The film received an R rating due to its explicit content and strong language.

These elements contribute to the raw and honest portrayal of the characters’ relationships and struggles.

Love and Other Drugs offers a realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by individuals with chronic illnesses.

It highlights the importance of empathy, understanding, and support in navigating these difficulties.

The movie addresses the influence of money and profit-driven motives within the pharmaceutical industry.

It sheds light on the delicate balance between providing necessary medications and the potential exploitation of healthcare.

Love and Other Drugs showcases the power of perseverance and resilience.

Through their personal and professional challenges, the characters learn to overcome obstacles and fight for what truly matters in life.

The film incorporates elements of social commentary on healthcare and societal expectations.

It urges viewers to question prevailing norms and to challenge the status quo.

Love and Other Drugs was a box office success.

Despite receiving mixed reviews, the film resonated with audiences and grossed over $102 million worldwide.

The movie features a range of emotions, from joy and laughter to heartbreak and despair.

It takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster, eliciting strong reactions and forging a connection with the characters.

Love and Other Drugs highlights the importance of intimacy and human connection.

It explores the impact of genuine emotional connections on personal well-being and fulfillment.

The film tackles the complexity of romantic relationships amid personal struggles.

It portrays the challenges of maintaining a healthy relationship while dealing with individual hardships.

Love and Other Drugs is a story of self-discovery and personal growth.

It illustrates how relationships can serve as catalysts for transformation and finding one’s purpose.

The movie emphasizes the need for compassion and empathy towards individuals living with chronic illnesses.

It promotes a greater understanding of the physical and emotional challenges they face on a daily basis.

Love and Other Drugs explores the vulnerability and strength required to open oneself up to love.

The characters learn to let go of their defenses and embrace the uncertainties that come with emotional connection.

The film highlights the importance of family and support systems in times of adversity.

It demonstrates how loved ones can provide a source of strength and comfort during difficult times.

Love and Other Drugs features stunning cinematography.

The visuals enhance the storytelling, capturing the beauty of the characters’ emotions and surroundings.

The movie portrays the societal pressures and expectations that can hinder personal growth and happiness.

It challenges viewers to question these norms and forge their own paths.

Love and Other Drugs incorporates humor to lighten the emotional intensity of certain scenes.

The comedic moments provide relief and balance, creating a more well-rounded viewing experience.

The film tackles the themes of identity and authenticity.

It explores how individuals strive to find their true selves, despite societal expectations and self-imposed limitations.

Love and Other Drugs delves into the complexities of commitment and the fear of vulnerability.

The characters grapple with their own personal demons, which hinder their ability to fully embrace love and intimacy.

The movie captures the power dynamics within relationships.

It explores the challenges of maintaining a balance of power and the dynamics that shape the emotional connection between two individuals.

Love and Other Drugs depicts the evolution of the characters’ perspectives on love and life.

Through their personal journeys, they learn to redefine their priorities and embrace what truly brings them happiness.

The film features a mix of poignant and lighthearted moments.

It strikes a delicate balance, portraying the characters’ emotional struggles while injecting moments of levity into the narrative.

Love and Other Drugs addresses the societal taboos and misunderstandings surrounding certain medical conditions.

It aims to raise awareness and promote a more empathetic and inclusive outlook towards individuals dealing with health issues.

The movie showcases the power of human resilience and the ability to overcome adversity.

Despite the challenges they face, the characters find the strength to navigate through difficult times and emerge stronger.

Love and Other Drugs challenges preconceived notions of love and romance.

It highlights the messiness and imperfections of relationships, emphasizing that love is not always a fairytale.

The film encourages viewers to embrace their own vulnerabilities and to let go of societal expectations.

It champions the idea that true happiness comes from accepting oneself and pursuing one’s own dreams and desires.

Love and Other Drugs highlights the importance of open communication and honesty in relationships.

The characters learn that true connection can only be achieved through vulnerability and authentic self-expression.

The movie leaves viewers with a sense of hope and the belief in the transformative power of love.

Despite the challenges faced by the characters, Love and Other Drugs ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

In conclusion,

Love and Other Drugs offers a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of love, personal growth, and the complexities of human relationships. It combines elements of romance, drama, and comedy to deliver a well-rounded and immersive cinematic experience. With its strong performances, engaging storylines, and social commentary, Love and Other Drugs is a film that leaves a lasting impression.

The “47 Facts about the movie Love and Other Drugs” provide an in-depth look at the various aspects of the film, from its development to its impact on audiences. Whether you’re a fan of romantic comedies or interested in the pharmaceutical industry, Love and Other Drugs offers something for everyone.

So, grab some popcorn, sit back, and immerse yourself in the world of Love and Other Drugs!

Love and Other Drugs is a captivating film that provides a unique perspective on love, fear, and the complexities of human relationships. With its compelling storyline, brilliant performances, and thought-provoking themes, it has managed to captivate audiences around the world. The movie beautifully explores the dynamics of a romantic relationship amidst the challenges of living with a chronic illness. It portrays the vulnerability, passion, and resilience of its characters in a way that leaves a lasting impact on viewers.

Love and Other Drugs stands out not only for its powerful narrative, but also for its ability to blend romance, drama, and comedy seamlessly. It is a testament to the talented cast and crew who brought this story to life. Whether you’re a fan of romantic movies or simply appreciate well-crafted storytelling, Love and Other Drugs is definitely worth a watch.

1. What is the storyline of Love and Other Drugs?

The movie follows the story of Jamie Randall, a charming pharmaceutical salesman, who falls for Maggie Murdock, a free-spirited woman with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Their relationship evolves as they navigate the challenges of love, career ambitions, and personal obstacles.

2. Who are the main actors in Love and Other Drugs?

Love and Other Drugs features Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall and Anne Hathaway as Maggie Murdock. Other notable cast members include Oliver Platt , Hank Azaria, and Josh Gad.

3. Is Love and Other Drugs based on a true story?

No, Love and Other Drugs is not based on a true story. However, it is inspired by the non-fiction book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” by Jamie Reidy, which explores the author’s experiences as a pharmaceutical salesman.

4. Does Love and Other Drugs have a happy ending?

The ending of Love and Other Drugs is bittersweet, as it reflects the complexities of life and relationships. Without giving away any spoilers, it is safe to say that the movie offers a realistic portrayal of love and leaves audiences with a mix of emotions.

5. What makes Love and Other Drugs unique?

Love and Other Drugs stands out for its ability to tackle serious subject matter, such as chronic illness, with a balance of humor and heart. It delves into the vulnerability and emotional rollercoaster of love, while also shedding light on the pharmaceutical industry. The film’s unique blend of genres and its stellar performances make it a memorable cinematic experience.

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Love and Other Drugs: Gounod's Roméo et Juliette

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‘love & other drugs’ director recalls jake gyllenhaal introducing his ‘girlfriend’ taylor swift.

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It’s a relationship Swifties remember “All Too Well.”

“Love & Other Drugs” director Ed Zwick recalls Jake Gyllenhaal dating Taylor Swift in his new memoir, “Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years.”

“While we were in London for the European premiere, he introduced me to his new girlfriend, Taylor Swift. I’m just sayin’…” Zwick, 71, boasted.

Gyllenhaal and Swift dated from October 2010 into early 2011 when she was 20 and he was 29.

Her fan-favorite song “All Too Well” off her 2012 album “Red” is believed to be about their relationship. The “10-Minute Version” of the song, which supposedly included more context around their breakup , was included on Swift’s “Red (Taylor’s Version)” re-recording in 2021.

Of course, the “Karma” singer has since moved on to Super Bowl LVIII champion , Travis Kelce, while the “Brokeback Mountain” star has been dating his longtime girlfriend, Jeanne Cadieu, since 2018.

Jake Gyllenhaal (L) and director Edward Zwick at the "Love & Other Drugs" opening night gala during AFI FEST 2010 on Nov. 4, 2010.

Elsewhere in the book, Zwick also reminisced on the acting exercise he challenged Gyllenhaal to in 2010 ahead of the actor’s portrayal of the womanizing Viagra salesman, Jamie, in the rom-com.

“His job as a salesman takes second place to his vocation, which is hitting on women. That wasn’t Jake’s style at all,” Zwick writes , adding, “Not to say he didn’t do just fine with women — at the time he was seeing Reese Witherspoon — but his ‘game’ wasn’t overt.”

While out to dinner, the director recalled, he noticed Gyllenhaal eyeing a woman, so he urged him to use his undiscovered rizz factor and get her phone number.

Taylor Swift arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 4.

Gyllenhaal initially refused, Zwick said, but eventually went over and returned with a grin and her number written on a napkin.

“Now, can I eat my dinner?” Gyllenhaal allegedly quipped after the successful encounter.

While the director said he doesn’t necessarily credit himself for impacting Gyllenhaal’s high-profile off-screen relationships, he did note that the star was “damn good” in flirtatious scenes with Anne Hathaway’s character.

“Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years” hit shelves nationwide today.

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Jake Gyllenhaal (L) and director Edward Zwick at the "Love & Other Drugs" opening night gala during AFI FEST 2010 on Nov. 4, 2010.


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Critic’s Notebook

8 Documentaries That Capture Something True About Love

These movies go beyond examining a relationship to reveal the glories, discontents and more about romance.

Against a red, molten lava backdrop stands a tiny figure in a white hazmat-looking suit.

By Alissa Wilkinson

Romance and love are oddly tricky to capture authentically in a documentary. So much of what fosters real connection — as opposed to, say, “Bachelor”-style performative love — happens away from cameras. Plus, every love story is a bit of an experiment, and the observer effect applies: being filmed tends to change the results.

But you can capture something about romance in a documentary. I don’t mean the kind that ends in disaster and a true crime documentary. I mean the movies that reveal something to us about the highs and lows, the glories and discontents, and above all something ineffable about love itself, transcending just romance.

You probably have your own favorites, and your list might include one of mine: “ Fire of Love ” (2022, Disney+ ), Sara Dosa’s swooner about the volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. United in love of each other and, perhaps just as much, love of volcanoes, they perished together in a volcanic explosion in 1991. Their shared interest was a fundamental part of their lives, which made me think of several documentaries about artistic couples, like Daniel Hymanson’s heartbreaking “So Late So Soon” (2021, rent on major platforms ) and Zachary Heinzerling’s acclaimed “ Cutie and the Boxer ” (2013, Vudu) , both of which delve into complex relationships that weave together creativity and partnership.

Other documentaries tap into the power of love to sustain us across tragedy and hardship. I think of this year’s Oscar-nominated “The Eternal Memory” ( Paramount+ ), directed by Maite Alberdi, about a couple navigating one partner’s deteriorating memory. Or Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s “Flee” (2021, Hulu ), in which, on the verge of marriage, an Afghan refugee tells his story of traumatic displacement; his soon-to-be husband has become the only place of safety he can find, but he’s still reluctant to trust any home at all. Or there’s “Time” (2020, Prime Video ), Garrett Bradley’s gutting film about Fox Rich’s fight to free her husband, Rob, from a 60-year prison sentence. (This was a co-production of The New York Times.)

There are so many more I could name that probe the corners and edges of romance, but two more spring to mind, difficult ones to describe. Benjamin Ree’s “ The Painter and the Thief ” (2020, Max ), about a relationship that develops between an art thief and the artist whose works he stole, is a slippery one. Its twisting narrative leaves you wondering, by the end, whether you know what exactly you’ve just watched, and questions not just what a romance really is, but also just how much any documentary can capture about a relationship.

And then there’s Agnes Varda’s “ Jacquot de Nantes ” (1993, Criterion Channel ), which is barely a documentary for long stretches. It’s the venerable filmmaker’s re-creation of the childhood of her husband, the equally distinguished filmmaker Jacques Demy, and mixes fictional scenes of his childhood with documentary footage of him at the end of his life. Demy had long wanted to make the film himself, but when he became too ill to make it — he died the year before its premiere — his wife took over. So it’s both a love letter and a product of a long partnership, and thus a real portrait of intimacy.

Alissa Wilkinson is a Times movie critic. She’s been writing about movies since 2005. More about Alissa Wilkinson

Review: In ‘Bob Marley: One Love,’ we wait in vain for the essence of the man to materialize

A performer with dreadlocks plays guitar and sings into a microphone.

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How can you contain the meaning of Bob Marley in a single biopic? The pioneering reggae artist’s life was all too short, but his music has persisted infinitely, reaching far beyond the blue mountains of his native Jamaica, and he continues to be a global icon and a posthumous ambassador for Rastafarian culture more than 40 years after his death. But the man himself has been abstracted into an image for sale, a signifier adorning a dorm-room poster, his songs of peace and freedom the dutiful standards of beach-bar cover bands across the globe. Is it possible to tell the story of his life in a way that feels remotely human?

These are the questions with which one wrestles while contending with “Bob Marley: One Love,” the new biopic from director Reinaldo Marcus Green ( “King Richard” ). But unfortunately, the film itself does not undertake these complex matters. Though the movie promises to tell a culturally and politically specific story, what could have been daring is ultimately trite, relying on familiar music biopic tropes.

It’s a shame, because at the center is a bravura performance from Kingsley Ben-Adir , who is uniquely suited to the title role. Like the singer, he is of Afro-Caribbean (Trinidadian, specifically) and English descent, and he nails Marley’s Jamaican patois, which Green allows to flow thickly without subtitles. Ben-Adir captures Marley’s voice and his wild physicality, and Green smartly keeps the camera focused on his face during the concert performances, which are transfixing.

A woman and a man, who holds a guitar, laughing on a sofa.

Lashana Lynch is also terrific as Rita Marley, Bob’s wife, backup singer and the mother to (part of) his brood, including Ziggy Marley, who produced the film. We track Marley’s life story partially through his romance with Rita, and she serves as a steadying force. But the screenplay (by Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, Zach Baylin and Green) isn’t entirely concerned with the personal; it brings in the political, or at least Marley’s symbolic function in politics — but only to a point.

“Bob Marley: One Love” opens with text explaining the violent unrest in Jamaica in 1976, but without substantive details. We are told there are opposing political parties and gang leaders in conflict, though we are not told why, just that Marley is planning to play a peace concert to unite the nation and that it will change his life. It would be nice to know what has sparked the unrest, why the nation teeters on the brink of civil war and why Marley is necessary, but that’s not clarified, the first indication that this film is about to over-promise and under-deliver.

The timeline is contained to a heady period between 1976 and 1978, interspersed with flashbacks and fantasy — a perfectly fine approach, even if the film feels edited within an inch of its life and structurally incoherent at times. However, there’s a real verve and energy as it opens, situating us in Marley’s Jamaican life, and the cinematography by Robert Elswit (“Boogie Nights”) is antsy and roaming, following our protagonist in constant motion: singing, dancing, jogging, hugging, toking.

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The pressure is on to bring a calming presence to his unsettled nation, but an assassination attempt on his family by gunmen invading his home rattles him. Marley performs the concert but jets off to London immediately thereafter, settling in to lay low and write his seminal album, “Exodus.”

It’s at this point that “Bob Marley: One Love” falls prey to the dreaded music-biopic cliché trap. There are songwriting sessions with lightbulb moments, uptight record executives and sketchy managers who don’t like the album art. Then we get a wildly successful tour montage with the requisite shot of records flying off the shelf. We watch Marley go from flesh-and-blood human being in Ben-Adir’s embodiment to a flattened image, though the film rarely regards this process critically.

Marley’s music has permeated global culture, though whether his message has been preserved is debatable. “One Love” does include several scenes of Marley’s Rastafarian religion and his spiritual guides. These scenes are as authentic as you will get in any Hollywood depiction, and the representation is deeply moving. Yet you wish to spend more time in this culture to understand why Marley was so called to it, what it provided him as a young man searching for meaning and chosen family, and to understand the tenets of Rastafarianism that he hoped to share with the world.

But we’re left adrift in his story with only generic beats providing a life raft. There’s a nagging feeling that the filmmakers should have just let this life breathe, that it didn’t need to be overly contextualized and nonlinearly presented, that the man and his music could simply speak for itself, especially with Ben-Adir’s capabilities. Though the actor embodies Marley beautifully, the storytelling ultimately fails to pay tribute to one of the most singular and iconic artists of all time.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

'Bob Marley: One Love'

Rating: PG-13, for marijuana use and smoking throughout, some violence and brief strong language Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes Playing: In wide release Wednesday, Feb. 14

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Bob Marley biopic ‘One Love’ takes the bite out of ‘Madame Web’ at the box office

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Ziggy Marley, hijo de Bob Marley, al lado de Ben-Adir en el set.

Ziggy Marley says it’s time to spread ‘this message of one love’ with Bob Marley biopic

Feb. 16, 2024

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How ‘Priscilla’ reexamines an iconic love story

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