We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 6 Sep 6:25PM
Anne Hathaway has early onset Parkinson's disease and Jake Gyllenhaal is a Viagra salesman in this rom-com
Love And Other Drugs suffers from a delayed introduction of its main theme, which is the daytime-TV-movie-friendly question of whether slick Viagra salesman Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal, slightly miscast) can stick out the rough with the smooth when he falls for a woman with a serious disease, Maggie Murdoch (Anne Hathaway).
The film's core problem is that it tries to mesh an (at best) uncritical view of the priapic frat boy world of this incredibly unappealing Viagra salesman (this is the type of role you'd normally expect to see Matthew McConaughey play) with the serious business of how a young woman copes with an incurable and debilitating degenerative disorder.
Because the disease in question is incurable, we know from the outset that the ending won't see Maggie magically all better. But the rest of the film adheres strongly to rom-com cliches (you want a race against time to declare massive feelings? You got it) with added sub-Judd Apatow-esque boner comedy (you want the world's tackiest threesome followed by hilarious it-won't-go-down stiffie jokes? This is your film). All of which makes an appropriate tone of bittersweet realism or even gallows humour impossible to achieve.
Gyllenhaal and Hathaway work very nicely together and there's more sex and nudity than you might expect from a film marketed the way this one has been, but that doesn't stop the lurches of tone from grating hideously. Next up, director Ed Zwick essays a cartoon musical about a talking kitten undergoing a brutal series of chemotherapy treatments.
Containing some of the most cringeworthy scenes you'll ever see but some nice chemistry between the two leads, this film is a mess, but one of those messes where it's at least fun to debate the different ways in which it got it so wrong and could have been great.
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