Going the Distance

18 Sep

Title: Going the Distance
Year: 2010
Director: Nanette Burstein
Writer: Geoff LaTulippe
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Ron Livingston, Christina Applegate
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity
Runtime: 102 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%

There was quite a bit I enjoyed about Going the Distance, I thought Drew Barrymore’s chemistry with her real-life on-again-off-again boyfriend, Justin Long, was seriously neat, and I enjoyed that this rom-com took a more honest (not to mention timelier what with the recession as a backdrop and all) approach to relationships, something easier said than done in today’s films of the same genre. However, that didn’t keep this one from being yet another typical commercial rom-com in the end, and the overall result was actually rather forgettable, and made you think that this premise, had it been developed into a better script (this one was written by first-timer Geoff LaTulippe), could have given us so much more.

I’m actually a huge Drew Barrymore fan, and while this one is far from her best turn as a leading actress (that one would be, to me, Ever After. And no, Donnie Darko or Whip It don’t count because she was supporting there), it’s still a pretty cool film in which she gets to display her lovable self, and her contagious laugh. Not to mention that the more racy jokes in the film are decent enough, and that’s something rare in rom-com’s nowadays, where most of the films all try and go for the Apatow style in those gags, and most of all fail miserably at that. This one, while not getting to Apatow heights, got the racy humor at least kind of right.

But the best part of this film by far, so much so that I deemed it deserving of a whole separate paragraph, was Charlie Day. This is a guy who, if you’re like me and watch his hilarious FX sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which had its sixth season premiere last night) you’ll probably know can steal every single scene he’s in from the other actors. And that’s no different in Going the Distance, he’s just as amazing as always.

Now, back to the story, this is a film, as you probably already know, about a long-distance relationship. Now, I’ve never been part of one myself, but I got a couple of friends who are, and it’s obviously not the easiest thing in the world. And this film handles the subject rather splendidly, and they do the same with the whole economic climate topic they also tackle in this one. As I said, this has to be one of the timelier rom-coms to come out in a while, and it gets you thinking about why these long-distance relationships haven’t been the focus of more films, the comedic potential certainly is there.

But anyways, we meet our two star-crossed lovers in New York City. But shortly thereafter our female lead, Ms. Barrymore, is sent to San Francisco and our guy, Mr. Long, has to say in the big apple all alone. Garrett, is in the music business and our girl, Erin, wants to be a reporter but is waiting tables to get money, professions which provide more material for the whole economic anxiety side of our story, though the script, thankfully, doesn’t dwell on that all that much.

As I said, I didn’t love the script this one was working from, I thought it could have been much better, but it’s still above par for this type of film. And that’s refreshing when you notice that it comes from a debut writer, who will hopefully only improve with time, but yeah, this was a script that, while avoiding the aforementioned misery that would have come from dwelling on the economic downturn for too long, does succumb to a fair bit of clichés, most of them seen during the movie’s first act in which we see our characters falling in love, New York City style.

The thing that makes Going the Distance charming, other than the chemistry between Ms. Barrymore and Mr. Long, is the honesty behind it all. I mean yeah, the clichés are all still there, but it feels far more genuine than the rest of the films of the same type. The thing is that this one finds its balance and stays there and doesn’t try to be dumb and go for more, most romantic comedies nowadays are either horribly racy in the stupidest of ways, all trying to copy the Apatow clan, or just super corny in their cutesy approach. This one is kind of in between those two definitions, and while not the best spot to be in, it could be much worse. And it has Charlie Day so, if anything, go see it just because of him.

Grade: B-

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