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Better Living Through Chemistry Movie Review Summary

Actors: Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wide, Michelle Monaghan

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Better Living Through Chemistry

A smalltown pharmacist gets entangled in the world of drugs, but starts fresh, learning the value of standing up for himself. Doug Varney is a typical small-town pharmacist, a truly nice guy, with an estranged wife and a son going through puberty. He has a tense relationship with his father-in-law, who was also a pharmacist, but he retired. Doug took over his pharmacy, but he is not allowed to change anything, because his father-in-law won't let him. Also, he is kind of bullied by his employees and his wife.

One day Doug's courier (a stoner guy) leaves the job early, so Doug has to get out the medication for those who ordered some. He meets Elizabeth, a trophy wife of a rich guy, who's never home. Elizabeth is alone all the time, and she takes prescription drugs recreationally.

Doug's wife is a health nut, who cycles a lot, and has a gym, where she offers spinning classes. She also won the local bicycle race 6 times in a row.

When she invites her cyclist friends to have lunch together and Doug arrives late, she puts him to shame in front of her everyone. But incidentally Elizabeth is there, so she and Doug start to talk. Later, when driving him home, Elizabeth and Doug have sex in the car.
The next day Doug and his wife, Kara are called into the school, because their son apparently had decorated the locker room with his own excrement. This flips Kara out, and she makes a scene, and then she leaves furiously. Later Doug and Kara have to endure a dinner with his father-in-law, and his wife (we'll never know), where he is bullied again by the old man.

The next day Elizabeth visits him in the pharmacy, and they talk and have sex there. After this Doug and Kara fight in front of Kara's spinning class, and so Doug decides to enter into the affair with Elizabeth.

So she pimps him out giving him fashion tips, gifts, and advice. They start taking drugs together. He also starts to make his own blend of pills they take together.
Eventually Elizabeth tells him, that they should leave their families, going away someplace, when the idea of Elizabeth's husband's murder pops up.

The next day a DEA agent arrives to investigate the pharmacy. And when Doug gets home, he learns, that his son is suspended. So he goes to talk to him, and it turns out that his son has a hobby of collecting martial arts weapons, like throwing stars and nunchakus. They decide to get out together and ruin some stuff. As fate would have it, they end up at the pharmacy, where Doug throws the stars to the sign of the pharmacy, his father-in-law wouldn't let him change. Also he breaks the windows of the shop.
After this he decides that he has to win the annual bicycle race to prove himself for his son. So his mixes up some drugs, to make it so. He does win the race, and after that he has sex with his wife.

Then the DEA agent appears again, because the pills don't add up. This makes Doug panic and he decides that he and Elizabeth should really go through with the plan of killing Elizabeth's husband. So they decide to temper with his medication.

Later that night, Doug's courier guy is sent out with the packages of the preordered medication, and Doug goes to a bar to get drunk. There he meets Elizabeth's husband. After that chat he writes a letter to his wife, telling her he wants to leave.

The next morning he goes to Elizabeth's house, only to see her husband totally passed out. He panics, but remembers that it's bring your father to school day. He crashes his car, and then falls off his bike, and then runs to the school. There, as he arrives, a cop tackles him to the ground (apparently this was his moment to shine and show how cool it is to be a cop). Meanwhile a call comes in, so Doug is brought back to the pharmacy.
Being in the state of total panic, he almost confesses, but it turns out that his courier guy died of some kind of overdose, and the DEA agent pins the missing drugs on him, not Doug.

But right at the moment when Doug decides to tell the story of the attempted murder, Elizabeth's husband shows up for some aspirin. He tells Doug that she left him, and it might just be the real thing this time. Then later on Doug talks to Elizabeth, who tells him, that they can try again. But Doug tells her that he can't leave, because he has a son.
Then he gets home, where his wife is waiting for him. He tells her that the letter he wrote was about him leaving her.

At the end, we see him getting a new life as a pharmacist, putting a new sign up to the front of the pharmacy with his name on it, telling his father-in-law that he doesn't care about what he thinks, he won't be pushed around by him, or anyone else for that matter anymore.
Best part of story, including ending: It made me think, and it was funny in a certain way. However I could do without the viceover.

Best scene in story: When Doug brings his bike to the race. His outfit, his moves are pure gold.

Opinion about the main character: I like his ability to turn his life around, and that he was brave enough to stand up and walk away from a bad marriage.

The review of this Movie prepared by Angela Szilagyi a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar





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Script Analysis of Better Living Through Chemistry

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of movie:    -   2000's+ (present) Romance/Love/Hugging    -   Yes Inner struggle or disability    -   Yes Druggie/drunk problems?    -   drugs Married, fooling around?    -   Yes

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   General European

Setting

United States    -   Yes Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   ignorant small town people

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Sex/nudity in movie?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Any profanity?    -   Occasional swearing

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