By Ap Kryza
In advance of its much-buzzed release, the Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams film Blue Valentine—which has yet to secure a Santa Fe opening—was slapped with an NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, a death sentence at the box office for a film gaining acclaim for its stark portrait of an unraveling marriage, complete with coercive cunnilingus. Williams’ Brokeback Mountain co-stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal probably didn’t have any trouble nabbing an R rating for their new romantic dramedy, Love & Other Drugs.
They stayed at R despite the fact that the pair start their onscreen romance with a little rough, doggy-style fuck in a public restroom, and generally thrust and undulate their way through the film. There’s even a wacky sidekick who likes to jerk off to the sex tapes the pair makes.
So in an era when sex is everywhere, how does a film about serious issues get blacklisted while a popcorn flick about fuck buddies getting mooshy feelings for one another is deemed a breezy romp? Is it because Hathaway and Gyllenhaal actually seem to be enjoying their carnal knowledge? Possibly, but my guess is it’s because Love & Other Drugs is a cookie-cutter romcom that humps every cliché in the book with the same reckless abandon with which Gyllenhaal mounts Hathaway behind a dumpster: It’s cheap, it’s emotionless, and it uses explicit sex and comedy to disguise what is essentially a chick flick wrapped in a Trojan, ribbed with bare flesh (for his pleasure) and ready to be tossed in the trash.
It’s no surprise Love & Other Drugs was perpetrated by Edward Zwick, an inexplicably acclaimed director who has spent decades taking tired ideas and repackaging them as prestige pictures (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond).
Here, Zwick re-imagines the skeezy but charming tobacco lobbyist of Thank You for Smoking as a pharmaceutical salesman (Gyllenhaal) whose unique ability to insert his unit into almost any woman makes him the perfect guy to peddle Pfizer’s miracle drug, Viagra.
He meets his match in the form of Hathaway’s artistic eccentric, who spends her spare time bussing senior citizens to the Canadian border for affordable prescriptions. Hathaway embodies what AV Club critic Nathan Rabin accurately dubbed the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: She’s smart, zany, artistic, listens to indie rock and manages to turn Gyllenhaal’s egocentric Lothario into a respectable man.
And she loves to casually fuck—which is compromised when Gyllenhaal wants to do weird things like have dinner with her and talk after sex.
Love & Other Drugs
Directed by Edward Zwick
With Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal and Oliver Platt
Dreamcatcher, Regal Stadium 14, UA DeVargas