Mike Kueber's Blog

March 31, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #19 – Love and Other Drugs, Sex is Comedy, The Bucket List, and Shakespeare in Love

Love and Other Drugs is a 2010 romantic comedy starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.  It is based on the real-life memoir of Jamie Reidy called Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.  Although I love romantic comedies like the 1986 film Working Girl starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford, I think that sometimes the comedy gets in the way of the romance.  It’s hard to get your serious romantic juices stirring when too much comedy is interjected.  That is the case with the early part of Love and Other Drugs, with Gyllenhaal and his dorky younger brother have scenes that are unbelievable and excessive.  But that problem is minimized later in the movie when girlfriend Anne Hathaway starts dealing with her early-onset Parkinson’s.  This causes the movie to shift from a romantic comedy to a romantic drama that is evocative of 1970’s Love Story, with Ali McGraw the sick girlfriend and Ryan O’Neill the dashing boyfriend.  Both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway are wonderful.  Love and Other Drugs starts lamely but finishes strongly.  It earned a 48% from the Rotten Tomato critics and a 54% from its audience.  I disagree and give it three stars out of four.     

Continuing with sex-based movies, I next saw Sex is Comedy.  According to Netflix’s thumbnail description, this French film is a movie director’s semi-autobiographical tale that captures the making of a cinematic sex scene in all its awkwardness.  Well said, except that the tale stars two incredibly unprofessional, childish actors.  Not surprising for a director’s semi-autobiographical tale, the only adult in the room appears to be the director.  The film received a solid 70% from the Rotten Tomato critics, but only 50% from its audience.  As usual, I lean more toward the audience than the critics, but I think the audience was too generous.  I give it only one and a half stars out of four.

The Bucket List has become a cliché, even for those who haven’t seen the movie.  The reference makes its way into a variety of philosophical discussions, and I always felt a bit guilty discussing the concept because I hadn’t seen the movie.  Now, because of Netflix, I no longer feel that guilt.  But watching The Bucket List was not time spent particularly well.  Although Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman acted proficiently, the movie contained no great insights or delightful nuances and nothing surprising.  Rotten Potato critics gave it only 40%, while the audience gave it 81%.  I don’t recall seeing such a divergence of opinion between critics and audience.  Although I tend to agree with the audience review, in this case I agree with the critics, and give it one and a half stars out of four.  I suspect the reason is that at my current stage in life I prefer movies that involve finding romance (like in Love and Other Drugs) rather than movies that deal with end-of-life issues.        

Shakespeare in Love made my viewing list because it won an Academy Award as the best 1998 movie, with Joseph Fiennes starring as William Shakespeare.  Gwyneth Paltrow played his love interest, and she won the Best Actress Academy Award.  The British movie is a fictional comedy that revolves around Shakespeare writing his play Romeo and Juliet while he having a similarly star-crossed relationship with Paltrow’s character.  As I have previously mentioned, I am not a big fan of serious comedies (Is that an oxymoron?), and I am not a big fan of this movie.  The actors, especially Fiennes, are too effeminate for my taste.  And although the ending was appropriate, it was disappointing.  As I expected, Rotten Tomatoes critics liked it more (93%) like it more than its audience (76%).  I would give the movie only two stars out of four because of its weak story and characters.