September 4, 2010
Review - " Going the Distance " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Going the Distance
Directed by: Nanette Brustein
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis,
Traditionally, Labor Day marks not only the end of summer, but the
last gasp for films that movie studios feel might have a three-day
window and nothing more. It’s the graveyard of summer movies.
That theory gets smashed this Labor Day weekend, however, by
“Going the Distance,” a sharp, funny, naughty look at the
complications of long-distance romance. At last the movies have
come up with a scene that at least approaches the hair mousse
moment of “There’s Something About Mary.” Let’s just say that after
you’ve seen “Going the Distance” you’ll never look at dining room
tables the same way thanks to a moment that’s referenced again and
again throughout the film.
Garrett Scully, just off a busted romance, meets Erin Langford in New
York under not the best of circumstances. Angry words are
exchanged. But then, a few dates. They find themselves on the same
wavelength. Soon they’re falling in love … maybe, sort of. But six
weeks later she must return to California to finish her graduate
studies. That means long distance phone calls and even a long
distance surprise visit in hopes of holding things together. But, well,
there’s no getting around the fact that Garrett is in New York and
Erin is in San Francisco.
The solution would seem to be Omaha. But that’s never presented as
an option in Geoff LaTulippe’s breezy script about 21st-century romance conducted by phone and text messages.
You couldn’t find actors with better chemistry than Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, and rightfully so, since they were an item
in real life. They seem to belong with each other even as circumstances keep pulling them apart. They’re what make “Going
the Distance” go the distance.
His Garrett scouts bands for a record label, an industry that isn’t the most secure these days. Her Erin is a 31-year-old intern
at a New York City newspaper, not the most secure of jobs these days either. At 31, Erin seems a bit beyond the pale for
being a summer intern who is still in college. Indeed, Barrymore, who looks every bit of her real 35 years, seems at the end of
the line for playing perky on screen. Yet she goes the distance in both the romantic and goofier moments of “Going the
Distance.” Even when things seem bleakest for this romance to succeed, one wants them to stay together.
LaTulippe has come up with a bright screenplay that has lots of funny lines and nutty circumstances to play off. Garrett has
been blessed with two best friends as a sort of chorus to comment on his commitment phobia, his feelings for Erin and, in
another running gag, a musical soundtrack from his roommate Dan that echoes through the thin walls of their apartment at
awkward moments when Garrett and Erin are together. Erin’s sounding board is her sister, Corinne (a very funny Christina
Applegate), who brings laughter from her hilarious reactions to surprise situations. On the other hand, LaTulippe relies too
much on one word of profanity, dropping it casually as an adjective into nearly every sentence. (OK, so lots of young people
use the F-bomb these days as an adjective before everything from a nap to a ham sandwich, but Erin is in her 30s!)
There’s a lot of sweetness,
however, to keep things mellow.
A scene in which Garrett and
Erin try to decide over the
phone whether they’re in a
monogamous relationship is
played beautifully by Long and
Barrymore for all its minefield
hesitation. Both are veterans
of last year’s “He’s Just Not
That Into You,” although not
as a couple. Director Nanette
Brustein gives them room to
explore modern romance with
a light touch, providing many
chances to laugh out loud and
also a few to tug at the heart.
Going the Distance is a
standard romantic comedy and
therefore fairly predictable but
no less enjoyable for that.