Despite the way the film is being advertised, as a saucy romantic comedy, Love and Other Drugs has a very specific point of view. And might I say, it’s about time someone said something.
In any given day, how many ads do we see selling drugs to the general public? I’m going to make a wild guess that it’s one in four ads on television are for depression, restless leg syndrome, chronic dry eye, bladder disorders, erectile dysfunction (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to explain what a four hour erection is to a pre-teen, “you can use it as a hammer if you’d like.”). Other side effects include dizziness while standing, suicide in young adults, bleeding of the ….you get the picture. You do not see these ads in other countries, folks.
Are we sick or are they trying to foist sickness upon us? To me, and obviously to Ed Zwick, this is a corrupt and twisted element of our society akin to the smoking ads during the Mad Men days.
Here he speaks with the Daily Northwestern and talks a bit about it and wants Love and Other Drugs to highlight a moment in the mid-90s when the drug companies got their carte blanche:
Well, it certainly was in that moment. It still is very intense. You guys are young, so you probably don’t spend as much time in doctors’ offices as some of us do as we get older, but the hot girls walking in in their slit skirts and their spike heels, and the guys looking like ex-military, they’re everywhere. And it is a rapidly competitive business. And it’s a consumer business now. Once the FDA allowed them to do advertising on television at this moment that the film describes, it became even turbo-charged. We really wanted to get that across.
Zwick also comments on the nudity in the film:
Well, first of all, in my experience, when you’re young and really into somebody, you spend a lot of time lying in bed. It’s pretty simple. But it’s also nudity that isn’t necessarily related to sex. It’s nudity which I think is part of the nakedness of emotion and the nakedness of intimacy, as long as the scenes are scenes and they’re advancing the plot, and they are in the service of the story and not exploitative. When it’s exploitative is in the spy movie, when suddenly he’s with the girl, and suddenly we study her nipples, or the camera explores her ass lovingly in this sort of fetishized way, and you kind of go, “Time for popcorn.” I can see that on the net. I’m not interested. Whereas, if it’s a scene that has a beginning, middle and end, you can kind of say, “Oh.” And you lean in a little bit. When she’s in the doctor’s office and she says, “I have this spider bite,” and she goes like this, and here’s her breast desexualized, it prepares you in that moment when you’re in the movie, and it’s pretty early in the movie. People have said to me they kind of go, “Oh. Hmm. What’s this movie going to be like?”
To hear Zwick describe it, Love and Other Drugs sounds like a winner, doesn’t it? I can take a pass on the romance and the nudity but I must admit to being lured in by the drug company thing. I’ve been waiting for someone to get really mad about the endless stream of drug ads on the airwaves that no one is doing anything about.
If the film is as good as it is on paper, it’s in. This, because of the broader theme about the drug companies.