Who's In It: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht, Judy Greer, George Segal, Jill Clayburgh
The Basics: He's a Big Pharma sales stud and she's a foxy Parkinson's patient with a fear of commitment that surpasses even his. Together they take off their clothes. A lot. Then they fall in love and have to decide what's really important. Answer: looking good even while fighting, sick and distressed. Can he love her when her illness degenerates? Can she let him in even though she's scared? Will he always work for the people who are actually making her life more difficult? You're allowed not to care.
What's The Deal: It's tough to love a movie that pretends to tackle real-life issues but trades in its nerve for cuddliness and a warm bath of unreality. Hathaway's seemingly health-insurance-less artist manages to pull wads of cash out of her pocket (literally) to pay for her treatments and Gyllenhaal's empty salesman is used alternately to play off Hathaway's pain and to set up silly comic scenes of people screaming and grasping at him and his brand-new wonder drug Viagra (It's set in the 1990s, Spin Doctors songs and all.) The love-fixes-everything message is sweet enough if you're not in the mood to dig deeper, but it's no less a slap in the face for anyone in the audience who can't afford their copay.
The Percentages: 3% heartfelt third-act speechifying by Gyllenhaal. It's the one truly emotional moment of the movie and, though the rest of it doesn't earn his grand declaration, it works anyway; 27% comedy that'll cause you to smile warmly instead of laugh out loud; and 70% drama that doesn't really bite hard enough at the Death Star that is the health care industry and the pharmaceutical industry. No one went to see Sicko, after all, so this obviously liberal-minded movie that seems to have more on its mind than most romantic comedies could have stabbed a little more pointedly than it dares, especially given its Cadillac insurance package mindset that teeters dangerously on being smug and self-satisfied.
Why That 3% Bit Works: Hathaway and Gyllenhaal. She's almost always on point, even when she's overdoing it like in Rachel Getting Married. Without a good director or someone like Hathaway or Heath Ledger to stand next to, he's no one's idea of a great actor, but what he can do well is smile, crinkle his face up, flirt with everyone screen and off and make you believe he loves you and only you. That's all he has to do.
See It For: The nakedness. I know that sounds like a leering joke, but it's not. Hollywood has retreated from the boldness of the adult dramas of the 1970s, when everyone felt like breaking rules. Now almost all the actors have no-nudity clauses in their contracts. Why bother with sex scenes at all when they come saddled with weirdly distracting elements like bras left on and strategic junk-concealing vase placement. It takes you right out of the movie, noticing what you're not seeing more than what you are. And this movie involves lots of sex, so the two leads deserve praise for agreeing to really go there.