Side Effects
Katherine Heigl, Lucian McAffee, David Durbin
Directed by Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau
VVS Films 2007
91 minutes

Side Effects is a bizarre hybrid of a movie. This DVD is not quite a comedy and not quite a mockumentary about drug company sales people. Since it cannot make up its mind, it does not work as either.

Katherine Heigl plays Karly Hert, a poli-sci graduate who goes from selling cell phones to going from doctor to doctor pushing drugs for a drug company. She falls in love with an iconoclast kind of guy and it is when she convinces herself she will only keep the job for another six months and tell the whole truth about her products that she becomes amazingly successful. This is where the comedy comes in. Some of it also comes from the spliced in documentary style footage about what doctors think about the drug company sales people and the mark up process from plant to customer, hence the mockumentary. Unfortunately, there is not enough of the first and the second seems unwarranted.

Director and writer Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau based Side Effects on her own experience. Her idea was to make a movie that would attack the sales practices of drug companies and entertain. This was a good premise but Slattery-Moschkau does not have the talent to carry it through as writer or director. The problem with her movie is she cannot quite make up her mind if comedy or mockumentary is most important. This makes for characters such as Karly’s roommate who have no real purpose or scenes that seem pointless such as shots of her boyfriend’s house being built.

Side Effects is also messy because Karly supposedly becomes successful by going against the grain but is then shown very much going with the grain and being even more successful so the movie loses its irony. She also loses her boyfriend. Oh, well.

The movie then gets weirder when Karly learns the drug company’s new drug, Vivex, may have death as a secondary effect. This causes Karly to wake up and realize her boyfriend is gone and also experience a flashback scene where she is told not to tell about the deadly side effects of the new drug. She then wants to figure out why the side effects were deleted from the published study. Guilt overwhelms her and leads Karly to an unwarranted and badly done Norma Rae style moment (with badly spliced in shots of her boyfriend in attendance for a while). I still have no idea why the boyfriend is there at the end since he left before he saw the ending.


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