Love and Other Drugs: Marred by Love, Saved by Parkinson’s

Intro by Maria

The 2010 film Love & Other Drugs certainly isn’t the best movie—or the worst—but as Brandon and I discuss, we unravel a slightly refreshing but still stagnant way to tell a love story. As Brandon says, we stayed for the drugs but didn’t care about the love.

The movie is about a pharmaceutical representative named Jamie, who is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s your typical guy, a ladies man, out for money, and then he meets 26-year-old Maggie, played by Anne Hathaway. Maggie has Parkinson’s Disease, which is really the only interesting things about her or about the movie, yet the movie still focuses on Jamie and his character.

Guess what happens next. Jamie and Maggie fall in love, but they struggle over her disease, and then they end up breaking up, and—SPOILER—they get back together, and happily ever after. Oh, and somewhere this movie attempts to tell the story of the beginning of Viagra, and Jamie gets rich from this. But whatever.

So by now, you’re probably wondering, why did you guys even watch the movie if you think it was so boring? Well, if you remember, this podcast examines how movies portray mental health or mental illness, and when we were creating our list of movies, I remembered this one from 2010. I had only seen a bit of it, and it seemed interesting. Plus, the word “drugs” is in the title, so that’s related to treating mental illness, right?

The movie isn’t that bad, though—I am dramatizing this for the purposes of this intro—it’s worth examining, particularly for Maggie’s character, as it seems like it is an accurate portrayal of the mental health of someone going through a serious illness. So we discuss this, plus I create a new quiz called When’s That Gyllenhaal on this love- and drug-filled next episode of Peculiar Picture Show

Show Summary

Overall Thoughts: Some cliche rom-com elements, but some deeper aspects as well

B: First time seeing this; mixed reviews overall; trailer doesn’t mention Parkinson’s; most likely marketed wrong; job right now is creating marketing for pharmaceutical sales

M: Figured it would go along with this podcast  

When’s That Gyllenhaal?

Brandon, can you guess when in time was Jake Gyllenhaal?

  1. In 2005, Jake starred in Jarhead, a biographical war drama set during the First Persian Gulf War. When in time is that Gyllenhaal? Is he during:
    1. 1987-1989
    2. 1988-1990
    3. 1989-1991
  2. Directed by David Fincher, this 2007 film named Zodiac stars Jake. It takes place during the time of the Zodiac killer, in California. In what year does Jake’s character, a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle, first learn about this killer? Is he in the year:
    1. 1968
    2. 1969
    3. 1970
  3. In 1999, Jake played Homer Hickam in the movie October Sky. It tells the story of when Homer Hickam was a kid and was inspired to build a rocket when he heard about the launch of Sputnik 1. When’s that Gyllenhaal? Is he in:
    1. 1957
    2. 1958
    3. 1960
  4. One of Jake’s super popular films that won an Academy Award was the 2005 Brokeback Mountain, famous for how it impacted LGBTQ films. So what year does the movie start? When’s that Gyllenhaal? Is it:
    1. 1963
    2. 1964
    3. 1965
  5. In 2018, Jake was in a movie called The Sisters Brothers. The only thing you need to know is that it is set during the Gold Rush in California. When’s that Gyllenhaal? Is he in:
    1. 1850
    2. 1851
    3. 1852

Brandon’s score/grade: 2/5 (40%)

Like: A great look at a relationship involving chronic illness

B: Appreciated that this movie isn’t anti-drug; here for the drugs, not the love; portrayal of someone with a chronic illness in a relationship; her illness is not just a cheap plot device; funny; I relate to the movie because it reminds me of when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder

M: Parkinson’s made the movie somewhat interesting; Anne Hathaway; kind of relate to being a medical anomaly

Dislike: Cliche romantic comedy bits and an asshole male lead

B: Traditional romantic comedy aspects; weird mix of cynicism and idealism, and idealism won; blatant cliches, like Jamie’s character; this film is about Jamie but it should be focused more on Maggie; Anne Hathaway  

M: Jamie focus; typical love story with typical guy and eccentric lady love interest; nudity; not enough penises

Mental Health: Relationships with chronic illness can be hard

B: Chronic illness and relationships; Jamie was an accurate portrayal of a caregiver

M: Seemed like these characters mental states matched what they were going through; lots of family issues  


B: I don’t think Parkinson’s is just a cheap plot device here because it’s present from the beginning. It’s a big part of their relationship. It adds depth to the ups and downs of their relationship, and we see Maggie actually struggling with the condition.

B: You shouldn’t put all of the burden of a mental illness on a romantic partner—you need to share that with therapists and psychiatrists and other people—so that shouldn’t go all on your romantic partner.

B: Partners of people with chronic illness usually suffer from more mental health issues than the patient because they take on a lot of caregiver responsibilities and they’re responsible for what goes on with their loved one. 

Next Movie

Chasing Amy (1997)

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