Better Living Through Chemistry (2014) Poster

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Nothing Special, But Still Fun
gavin694221 January 2015
A strait-laced pharmacist's uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy-wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder.

This film comes across as your standard indie comedy with a solid cast. Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Ray Liotta, to name a few. Maybe not quite A-list, but all well-established actors in their own right with plenty of talent. Through in a cameo by Ben Schwartz, who is definitely moving up in the world, and you have a strong ensemble.

The film is good, too, with plenty of subtle humor, of a dark nature, and just enough quirkiness to appease the target audience. Maybe not quite funny enough to recommend, but worth the time it takes to watch.
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Good flick!
jkt20062 June 2014
Well, I enjoyed this one thoroughly. One, there was rarely a boring moment, it didn't give me enough time to ponder about what next? Two, the performances by both Sam and Olivia were convincing and enjoyable, especially Sam. Once in a while what one needs is pure entertainment(not nonsensical though!) and this one provides the right thrills and entertainment in one go. Olivia Wilde is exactly that, just wild in the movie and has a wonderful screen presence. The chemistry between the two is great too, and you wish they had more scenes together. I gave it a 7 for I had a good time watching it and would recommend it for an evening watch.
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Starting up
kosmasp14 August 2014
If you never start, you'll never finish. Makes sense, also if you don't break out, you'll stay imprisoned. Both those things do apply to our main hero here (played with much gusto by Sam Rockwell, whose presence alone elevates any and every movie). You also get Olivia Wilde who takes her last name literally ... well her character does.

For a "small" movie that is quite an impressive cast that assembles here and it does show on screen. There are a few things that might feel a bit cliché, but that can be attributed to once cynicism or the fact that one has watched too many movies (I'm mainly talking about myself here). But even through all this the movie has heart and does keep you guessing and rooting for the main (naive) guy ... Sam Rockwell can do that to you (the character he's playing).
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Positive truthful movie
Nafiganado29 August 2014
Protagonist is a positive person, which is an under-heel-guy, doing everything to please his wife and her parents. Very common situation.

In some moment another woman pushes him in right direction to change: to become a free-spirit person and start taking care about himself. Of course, it was not a very healthy way - meaning there were some drugs involved. But again, the situation shown is quite truthful: if we want good changes - sometimes it's not possible to do EVERYTHING right all the way, agree? Of course, there are some lucky coincidences which help our main character to come out clean from all the problems finally. But once more: haven't you ever had situations in your life, when you are very close to get into troubles when trying to make things better and finally as a reward for all your trials you are saved in some magic way? :) All in all, this movie is very positive. It let you dream when watching it, but easily gets you back to reality when it ends. With pleasant thoughts.
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Better than many "big" movies out there
anthonyctho14 April 2014
Here is an example of a simple story told in a such a great way. Sam and Norbert did a great job I think. Although I am still not a fan seeing adults curse in front of the kids on screen but I guess it slowly become normal nowadays.

Sad thing is I met many men and women and they mostly go through the same similar crisis as they do in this movie. I am not an expert or anything but it feels authentic in this film. What would you do if your wife disrespect you in front of other people in public? Or what would you say if your husband always so passive? As it says at the end sometimes only you can help yourself.
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Good story, but not funny at all
sjd91214 March 2014
This movie strikes at some interesting subjects as a dramedy, but besides a couple of nice twists, it offers nothing to enjoy. It never really picks up a pace, hasn't got more than 2 or 3 funny moments, so basically it's like a very light drama. The main storyline featuring the protagonist, who learns how to stand up for himself, is not the most original one, but is written well, and would have worked well in a comedy with actual jokes. But this way it's more like a corny and shallow drama. The actors are doing a great job, especially Rockwell and Monaghan, but it's all for nothing. Basically this movie isn't satisfying as a comedy nor as a drama.
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High on drugs
TheOneThatYouWanted22 August 2017
Yeah, this is going to sound strange but this is the type of film you watch more so for the actors than for the actual plot or film. You'll watch this because you know it has Sam Rockwell and this is a comedy and he will be acting like a wild man in it. You'll watch this because you know it has Olivia Wilde in it and you still have a crush on her. No, this is not the funniest thing you're going to watch this year and it has hiccups and isn't perfect but it is fun, especially once it Rockwell's characters starts getting high off his own supply. 7/10 type of deal but I'm rounding up a point just to offset the main score a bit.
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Watchable on a rainy, boring night
bob-larrance14 March 2014
Sam Rockwell has done some really great work. Not here, but he has, trust me. Ditto Michelle Monaghan, Olivia Wilde and Ray Liotta. And, let me be clear when I tell you that they try very hard to make this a nice little comedy. Sadly, all their hard work is pretty much wasted, and combined with the unnecessary Jane Fonda Narration I found Better Living Through Chemistry to be one of those movies you might watch some rainy, boring night - one of those nights when this is the only possible choice.

Rotten weather tonight? Seen every episode of Two Broke Girls at least twice? Need to save your gray matter for tomorrow's presentation? Great! This is a movie for you.

I think that the below average production really detracts from the film. There is something 'funky' about the sound and the filming is just a little bit off, like it was filmed half digital/half Eastman Kodak. No need for me to be more specific, you will notice. Trust me, again.

Another negative is knowing how much you have enjoyed the leads in the past. Consider Rockwell in Moon, or Monaghan in True Detective, two very strong performances. Rockwell in this movie comes off more like the new Rick Moranis (Honey, I drugged the kids) and I don't recall ever seeing Michelle so tired around the edges. I mentioned that they work hard, right?

This is not some comedic breakthrough, by the way. I do believe it has all been done before, thematically.

Though this is a film about a pharmacist, there is nothing new in this comedy as far as concepts or gags. You have seen it all before. The script isn't at all fresh, a real problem for me. It even has the oddball kid, you know the one that is going his own way or words to that effect. The core concepts that are supposed to work and make us laugh just don't work often enough.

I don't know if this ever made it to the theaters, or went straight to video. If it was in general release it is impossible for me to imagine it generating the sort of buzz to attract many folks to the old movie house.

However, it is watchable. Sound odd? Not really, just don't expect much. And, don't worry about pausing when you need a quick trip to the john, you won't miss much and no new techniques will be introduced.

Trust me.
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Is life better through chemistry?
Gordon-1116 March 2014
This film tells the story of a suburban pharmacist undergoing a midlife crisis. His life spirals out of control when he meets a beautiful female customer.

"Better Living Through Chemistry" spends an adequate amount of time building up a picture of Douglas' the unpleasant life. He is constantly undermined by his loved ones, and it does not feel great to be him. I feel for him, and I think Sam Rockwell does well in making me care for his character. Douglas' life changes quickly after Elizabeth arrives, some for the better and some for the worse. There is much food for thought, especially whether life is better through chemistry. The build up of the policeman plus DEA agent encounter is well done as well! It really got the character and me as well. I enjoy watching "Better Living Through Chemistry" a lot, as it gives people bits to chew on, reflecting on their own lives.
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Best movie I have seen in a while!
k-binkys12 May 2014
This romantic comedy was extraordinary.

The plot twists were not clichéd.

Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde were fantastic. Just a pure gold acting performance. Ray Liotta acting as a nice guy was quite odd to watch, but also exciting, he really did the job well. And the whole acting crew in general did not mess up in general, very entertaining.

I really enjoyed my time watching the movie. And maybe would like to re-watch it again in the future(which I practically never do). If you are looking for a cheerful, fascinating time,the suggestion is, watch the movie.

I would recommend this movie for anyone. Thumbs up! If it is possible that somebody from the movie crew is reading this, then, thank you for the ecstatic 91 minutes.
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Great movie overlooked by the mainstream
chaz72275 February 2016
I have to say I am a big Sam Rockwell fan so might be a bit biased but this movie was so much better than what I expected. The whole underdog or bad guy story played out very well. I am happy to see Sam Rockwell and some of the other not so known actors at this time Olivia what an incredible actress getting a great part in a great movie. The fact that many people did not see or know of this move goes to the whole hype based Hollywood BS machine.

One of the greatest lines period in all of the recent movies you have seen...I'm here to bake a Red Velvet Cake just classic when he said that at that moment just so fricken funny and so Sam great stuff!!!

Well written with great performances from all involved no matter what you sheeple think!
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Why the hell is Jane Fonda narrating everything?
anitamcgill13 April 2020
Apart from the tonal dissonance, I'd say this is a relatively enjoyable movie and I would've probably given an extra star if they had ditched the narration.
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Watching and fun
dar04171 September 2020
When all said done it turns out all the characters in this film are just jerks. Film is watchable and entertaining.
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MelbaMan12 May 2018
Fun if at times frenetic. Rockwell is perfect. I was left a bit uneasy by the ending even though it rounded everything off nicely. This is like an updated '40s romantic thriller with a comedy thrown in.
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Pill poppers
deloudelouvain23 January 2017
Don't expect too much of this movie and then you will appreciate it more. I mean by that that it's not a comedy where you will not stop laughing but thanks to Sam Rockwell it has his funny moments. He's a pharmacist with a pretty boring life, with a wife he doesn't really love, a stepfather that can't stand him, and he then falls for a rich blond pill popper played by Olivia Wilde that introduces him to all the drugs he actually has been dealing with for years. What follows is a story of pills taken wrongly for many purposes. A lot of sex, cheating and lies are the consequences of his behavior. The movie never slows down and that's only good for a movie like this one. It's an easy movie to watch, nothing to think about. Just relax on a bad weather day and enjoy the movie.
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Wild and funny
Seraphion11 May 2015
The story nicely points out about its own unlikelihood to happen by setting the location is some small town. Yet the story can set itself up nicely with all those crazy things in its ingredients. Although the story almost got stretched too wide, the movie managed to anchor it down by keeping the focus at Doug at all times. By this the movie instead shows a wider aspect of Doug's problems such the things with Ethan, Kara, and also his own father in law. Yet I feel that this movie unevenly built the characters in it.The character Kara is well built and developed as the main character's wife, but Kara never had any real significance within the story besides being Doug's wife. Meanwhile the character Noah only shows up a couple of times before he appears drunk and then dead, thus being an easy scapegoat for Doug. The acting overall is nice job. Sam Rockwell did a balanced acting, using his usual carefree character and adding a little bit of fatherhood to it. Olivia Wilde's character is also quite strong in her acting, successfully depicting th lonely trophy wife. Michelle Monaghan is quite underutilized since her character didn't really have any greater significance.
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Nothing new, nothing funny, but Sam is great!
AlenkaArya28 June 2014
PLOT Small town pharmacist Douglas Varney (Sam Rockwell) is tired of his uneventful life, his bitchy wife Kara (Michelle Monaghan) and don't really take time for their distant 12-year-old son Ethan (Harrison Holzer). He spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy wife customer Elizabeth (Olivia Wilde) who takes him on a joyride involving sex and drugs. They want to run away together but one of them may change their mind.

REVIEW Well... let's just say actors are trying very hard to make this a nice little comedy (Sam is really good) but sadly their hard work is pretty much wasted. Film strives to be some kind of witty cool comedy-drama but it's just not. Nothing that we haven't seen before, rare funny moments, unnecessary Jane Fonda narration. After first 15 minutes you're like: 'I can't watch this crap anymore', but when you go on, it gets a little better, the ending and the message are solid. Some twists were also not clichéd and I appreciate that. Still, average flick that you can forget easily. You need to take chances in life but I'm not sure you need to take chance on this film.

More on blog -
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Not Bad
sami_addam23 March 2014
"Better Living Through Chemistry" (2014 release; 92 min.) brings the story of Doug Varney (played by Sam Rockwell), who is stuck in an unhappy marriage, and who has just bought the pharmacy from his father- in-law. One evening, Doug is making house deliveries of prescriptions, and one of those deliveries is to a McMansion, where the doorbell is answered by Elizabeth, a beautiful yet bored and unhappy housewife (played by Olivia Wilde). It's not long before Doug and Elizabeth hit it off, setting Doug on a path of personal discovery. In a parallel story, Doug is dealing with his 12 year old son who is going through a tough stretch himself. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
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If Breaking Bad was a Comedy, You'd Get This
schemeofschemes17 June 2014
This was a decent movie, kind of what you would expect if you could mate Friends with Breaking Bad but with a lot more sex. Throw in a really hot chick to make the sex scenes all that much more interesting to watch and you can almost forgive the cookie cutter script.

Hey his wife is a bitch, gosh why doesn't he get out of that relationship. Ah, he's a bit too wimpy to do anything about his life, i'm betting that will change if a hot girl could walk into his life ... oh here comes one now.

Look at that, she's a perfect 10 and wants to bang a solid 3, must be some ulterior motive for that I bet ... say why hasn't a perfect 10 walked into my life yet and use sex to exploit me?

Did I mention she's hot to look at?

It always helps to have a hot girl to look at when you've written a plot that's guessable by my 8 year old.

So what made the movie watchable? I mean, other than her. Well, the acting was quite good, it moved along at a nice pace, it had car sex ... twice! ... and the girl was hot. Darn it, have I mentioned that one time too many yet?

Oh and Ray Liotta is a nice guy for once, but he looks old. Every actor has a movie where you notice how old he's suddenly gotten, this is 'that' movie for Ray.

Across the street from me here in Bangkok, there's a 711 and beside that a little tiny pharmacy with old jars and glasses behind the rusty old table that serves as a counter. The 80 year old 'pharmacist' takes the cork out of one of those jars and spills 100 Xanax on the glass counter asking how many I need. She drops them into a soup bag, wraps it with an elastic band and hands it over for 100 Baht looking at me with a crooked smile and a twinkle in her eye.

I wonder if she sees me as a hot male version of Michelle Monaghan? Good god, does that mean I have to do it with her in a Tuk-Tuk , twice?
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Dull, unoriginal
Cedric_Catsuits22 February 2016
Nothing new here, just rehashing plots that are centuries old. That might work if the characters are interesting - or even likable. In this case the main characters and actors are fairly unlikable, and everybody just seems to be going through the motions.

Those on the periphery promise a little more entertainment but they're very much bit-part players. In the main, what we get is just dull, uninspired, uninteresting, unoriginal, mediocre quality writing and acting.

Please take my advice and don't waste precious moments of your life on mindless drivel like this.
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flat black comedy
SnoopyStyle2 April 2016
Doug Varney (Sam Rockwell) is a reserved small town pharmacist. Despite taking over his father-in-law Walter Bishop's store, Walter decides to install a Bishop's Pharmacy sign. He's a pushover for everyone including his competitive cycling wife Kara (Michelle Monaghan). His son Ethan has issues and Kara enables him. Doug starts an affair with Elizabeth Roberts (Olivia Wilde). She's the unhappy trophy wife to Jack Roberts (Ray Liotta). They start getting high on Doug's own supply and planning Jack's murder.

Narration is sometimes problematic. The Jane Fonda narration is not only unnecessary. It is wholly distracting. I wonder if the filmmakers felt a lack of energy and decided to inject the narration to fill out the blank spaces. It sets up a bunch of pathetic malcontents and takes forever to get going. I don't feel it when Doug and Elizabeth get together. Sam Rockwell is miscast and he only shows his true colors when Doug livens up. The early Doug is a fake and it feels like it. It's also noticeable that Ray Liotta is missing for most of the movie. Elizabeth can bad-mouth him as he's shown in a bad light early in the movie. The first half is flat. The movie simply doesn't work.
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Could have better! 4/10
leonblackwood8 June 2014
Review: This is a average movie about a pharmacist who gets high on his own supply after falling for a lonely woman in his neighbourhood. The script was put together will and there loads of twists and turns near the end, but it wasn't anything amazing. I'm quite a fan of Sam Rockwell, who puts in a good performance in this movie, but I was hoping for something that was a bit more interesting. It seemed to jump from one extreme to another, with the help of Jane Fonda who narrates through the whole film. On a whole, the storyline does lose some substance in the middle, but it's a watchable movie that is easily forgotten. Not Bad!

Round-Up: Sam Rockwell's career really does have its ups and downs. From Iron Man 2 to Moon and the disappointing Cowboys & Aliens, he really does like to mix up his choice of roles which shows how versatile his acting style is. He was great in the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy & Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, but they seemed like roles that were tailored made for him. Anyway, Ray Liotta & Fane Fonda are all over the poster for this film, but they are only in a couple of scenes. You get to see a different side to Oliver Wilde and Michelle Mohaghan which was refreshing, but the movie just seemed like it was made for TV.

Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $75,000

I recommend this movie to people who are into there comedy/romance dramas about a pharmacist who gets high on his own supply. 4/10
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Comedy & Sex !!!
joyce79djh22 April 2021
I just love this film, I had to purchase it on iTunes a few years ago!!! It has everything you need-sex, drugs,(legal), sex, funny characters, I "highly" recommend this movie. Plus Olivia Wilde is a big part in this with the very very good actor Sam Rockwell!!
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Every pharmacist should watch it
raniao-174763 July 2020
Every pharmacist should watch this movie it's so interesting and funny
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Great Review....thank you for what is a superb heads-up
lindsay5014 March 2014
Loved your review of Better living Through Chemistry. Yes, always, movies, as with music, are subjective and highly dependent upon the watcher/listener, but very often when someone has taken the time to be specific and concise, as you have done, it really does save many of us the time and trouble of bothering with something 'ordinary'...and for me, this is how this movie seems it would be as a watching experience. I love Rockwell's work, and as you rightly state, he has done some superb stuff over the years with a lot more to follow, lets hope. Love True Detective to bits, where so many are stand-outs......and it seems that this could have been taken to a place where it was a lot more than it is, had it only been scripted well enough. The very best actors and talent can only do so much with a poorly crafted script....I have seen the likes of Di Niro in some woeful stuff in recent years, and many other classic performers who sometimes just take the money and do as asked in a dull performance. So this really (apologies ahead of time here) is less a review than a thanks to the reviewer, who has done such a great job of saving me a lot of time, and I know this is one to pass upon without doubt. On to bigger and better things....thanks again for a stand-out review of this is very much welcomed!
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