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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Love & Other Drugs

By
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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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog One of the difficulties we may have when our lives become unmanageable is that we find dealing with other people to be difficult and we may even struggle to maintain a relationship with God. Caring people especially can find themselves carrying unnecessary crosses as they become lost in the maze of trying to meet everyone’s crazy expectations—including their own!

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