Going the DistanceReviewed By William Goss
Posted 09/16/10 02:50:14
(Worth A Look)
Boy, have people been ragging on 2010 as a movie year. I feel that rumors of its sucking out loud have been greatly exaggerated – just because a bunch of blockbusters were a bust doesn’t negate some pretty great indies and foreign films – but so far as the romantic comedy is concerned, yeah, it hasn’t been all that great, what with the uniformly shrill likes of 'When in Rome,' 'Leap Year,' 'Valentine’s Day,' 'The Bounty Hunter,' 'The Back-Up Plan,' 'Just Wright' and 'Killers' being countered only by the just-decent 'She’s Out of My League' and (if you want to stretch a bit) the proudly awkward 'Cyrus' and the relentlessly geeky 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World'.So you can see how easy it is to welcome Going the Distance with open arms. It’s by no means revelatory, but it is reasonably raunchy, frequently funny and at least partially grounded in real-world romantic concerns.
Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) meet cute at their local bar’s Centipede machine, where she’s that mystery champ posting all the high scores and he’s throwing off her groove that night. He apologizes profusely over a couple of beers; they go back to his place for bong hits and Berlin-scored sex before waking up to relatively little regret. See, Erin only has six weeks left at her NYC journalism internship before she heads home to San Francisco, so neither of them has to commit very much to this relationship before breaking it off. Six weeks later, though, neither one wants to break it off, and so they decide to give the long-distance thing a chance.
First-time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe creates credible complications for the thirty-something lovers to endure, mostly concerning the financial realities that keep one from flying across the country at a moment’s notice or from finding a dream job that happens to be right in their significant other’s backyard. Erin and Garrett give phone sex a go, only to quickly realize that it’s just not going to cut it. LaTulippe even introduces the requisite cute co-workers and wisely doesn’t have anyone succumb to temptation; the mere existence of these characters is enough to fuel the doubts that are fraying their sense of trust. As cute as Barrymore and Long are as a couple, they also nail the constant frustration that comes with the territory.
Don’t fret, though. It’s not all tears and tissues, as a hearty amount of raunch runs throughout, courtesy (more often than not) of Garrett’s best buds, Dan (Charlie Day) and Box (Jason Sudeikis). All characters get a little carried away with the f-bombs, employing the expletive with the frequency of a giddy teen eager to give it a spin, but discussions about masturbation euphemisms and oral sex earn laughs out of their honesty, not necessarily their vulgarity. And the supporting cast is nicely rounded out by the likes of Christina Applegate (as Erin’s big sis), Jim Gaffigan (her husband), and comedians Kristen Schaal and Mike Birbiglia in too-fleeting appearances.
In fact, everyone involved works against the indifferent direction of Nanette Burstein, making her transition here from documentaries. Take, for example, an initially hilarious gag that involves Erin and Garrett getting all hot and heavy on a dining room table before they realize that they’re not as alone as they think. The reactions all play out perfectly, but a scene prior sees Garrett acting unreasonably stupid in a tanning salon, the results of which we see for ourselves on his skin. That joke gets run into the ground shortly thereafter, as does the notion that the table is now tainted in the eyes of those who were present the night before. Some rash reactions during dinner help make the bit briefly funny again before Burstein decides that she’s had her fill and drops it altogether… only to bring it back at the very end, just after the story supposedly ends on a gentler, more fitting note.It’s only one occasion within an otherwise enjoyable film, but that particularly clunky sense of humor is exactly what we’d expect from any of those other rom-coms that I already named. The rest of 'Going the Distance' – the wit, the warmth – shows us just what we’ve been missing all this time.
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