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Love & Other Drugs

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

With a satire of the drug industry in the background and an excess of bare flesh to the fore, "Love & Other Drugs" (Fox)—a potentially touching romance about the ennobling effects of heartfelt ardor—goes thoroughly awry due to misguided values.

In adapting—and fictionalizing—Jamie Reidy's 2005 memoir "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman," director and co-writer (with Charles Randolph) Edward Zwick tells the tale of slick pharmaceuticals seller Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) and vulnerable artist Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway).

Smooth-talking womanizer Jamie and relationship-phobic Maggie—afflicted with early onset Parkinson's disease, she's afraid to become a burden to any potential partner— hook up for commitment-free sex. But gradually, despite themselves, they find their alley-cat connection deepening into love.

With Maggie recognizing qualities in self-doubting Jamie's character that others around him fail to notice and with Jamie struggling to find the courage to offer Maggie a lifetime of support, the pair's rise from hedonism has the makings of an engaging conversion story. Their initial high jinks, however, are not only intruded on in a needlessly graphic way, but also presented as perfectly acceptable, if not exactly ideal.

The script consistently confuses vulgarity with sexual frankness and seeks laughs by showcasing wayward behavior. Thus, crowds of extras clamor for their Viagra fix and Jamie plays the panderer for a prominent doctor (Hank Azaria) he's trying to convince to purchase his wares. Doc repays the favor by inviting Jamie to an orgy.

All of this reaches a queasy low point in a scene that plays for laughs the fact that Jamie's brother Josh (Josh Gad)—who has moved in with Jamie after quarreling with his wife—has been pleasuring himself to one of Jamie and Maggie's homemade sex tapes.

The film contains strong sexual content, including brief graphic nonmarital activity; offscreen group sex and masturbation; fleeting pornographic images; upper female, rear and partial nudity; much sexual humor; about 15 uses of profanity; and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R —restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog Let us never tire of seeking the Lord—of letting ourselves be sought by him—of tending over our relationship with him in silence and prayerful listening. Let us keep our gaze fixed on him, the center of time and history; let us make room for his presence within us.

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