Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity.
Starring: Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, Charlie Day, Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis
Written by: Geoff LaTulippe
Directed by: Nanette Burstein
I wasn’t going to see Going the Distance for personal reasons; in July, I ended my long distance relationship and going to see a movie about the experience I just went through wasn’t high on my priority list. After sitting through this comedy though, I’m glad I did; although it doesn’t reach the stark reality of Joe Swanberg’s Nights and Weekends, for a mainstream romantic comedy it gets it very close to being accurate. It also happens to be ridiculously funny, thanks to its cast and in particular the comedy excellence of Charlie Day.
After a break up, Garrett (Justin Long) and his friends Dan (Charlie Day) and Box (Jason Sudeikis) head to the bar to make him feel better. While there, Garrett meets Erin (Drew Barrymore), a 31 year old summer intern for a New York city newspaper. For six weeks, their relationship is great, but then it’s time for Erin to head back across the country to California. Feeling strongly for each other, Garrett and Erin decide to try to make it work through texts and occasional visits. Throw in some romantic comedy cliches and an excellent supporting cast, and wing bang.
Going the Distance is the funniest romantic comedy I have seen in quite some time. In fact, I’d rank it up there with my personal favorite Three to Tango (I got a Matthew Perry thing, don’t judge me). There are jokes a plenty here, and instead of being embarrassing and painful (like the ones in the upcoming You Again will probably be), they actually hit. Also since they stuck with the R rating, which probably explains their low box office take, it gets dirty and the language flies like Jello at a summer camp food fight.
Justin Long and Drew Barrymore are actually an item (or were, or still are, or will be again), so the chemistry between the two on-screen is very strong and their relationship is entirely believable. Long does his usual “loser guy” funny routine, but he’s excellent at it and unlike Michael Cera (at least for now), he can translate it to a more adult setting. As great as they are though, the strength lies in the supporting cast: Day and Sudeikis as Garrett’s best friends are an absolute riot every time they are in the movie. From accidentally dressing up like Hitler to growing a mustache in order to snag middle aged ladies (as Box calls it “a time machine”), the misadventures of Dan and Box should almost be a movie in and of themselves. Christina Applegate, as Erin’s sister Corinne and Jim Gaffigan as her suffering schlub of a husband also have some great choice moments (one of them you see in the trailer).
What is great about Going the Distance is the realism of the situation. This relationship hits the twists and turns you expect, but they reach logical conclusions (being jealous of other people in their lives, trying to have phone sex but not being able to take it seriously, etc.). Through out the whole thing, you can feel the love the two have for each other and you end up investing in their relationship. Even the ending, which you can see coming a mile away if you’ve watched ANY romantic comedy, feels somewhat realistic because it’s based on smart decisions. In essence, no one ditches their perfect life to chase the other; there isn’t any bad lesson for a girl to learn!
There are a few things in Going the Distance that keep it from being as excellent as it could have been. There are some red herring characters thrown in to create tension and as soon as they do, they disappear completely. Pretty much, they are just plot points and useless. Ron Livingston shows up for two scenes for no particular reason. And while the ending was good for what it was and the kind of movie this is, I was hoping for the more depressing ending and part of me was thinking they’d have the balls to pull the trigger on it. Oh well, that’s what mumble-core is for I guess.
Going the Distance portrays long distance romance pretty realistic for a mainstream comedy, although not as realistic as it could have been. It has some excellent jokes, a great cast, and the characters are sympathetic enough to actually invest in. Although there are some minor quibbles here and there, this is definitely worth a watch once it hits DVD (or the low rent theater if you’ve got one). If you’ve just gotten out of a long distance relationship like me…it may bring up some sad feelings, but it’s good enough to make you jump the hurdle of your depression and put a smile on your face.