Film Review with Robert Mann – Going The Distance

Going the Distance **

In real life, Drew Barrymore and Justin Long’s on again/off again romance has been the subject of celebrity gossip in the glossy rags for quite some time. Now, with the release of romantic comedy Going the Distance, their real life relationship troubles have been translated to the big screen. A romantic comedy that is clearly trying to be relatable to moviegoers by dealing with an issue that many couples face in real life

– the long distance relationship – this is certainly a film that has the potential to distinguish itself from the many predictable romantic comedies coming out of Hollywood, even if it will be considerably less relatable to British viewers than American ones – to a Brit a long distance relationship may mean being separated by a few hundred miles, to an American on the other hand, it’s probably more like a few thousand – and with the usual suspects missing from behind the camera – director Nanette Burstein has not only never directed a romantic comedy before but has also never directed a fictional film before, her past movies all being documentaries, among them 2008’s American Teen, 2002’s The Kid Stays in the Picture and 1999’s On the Ropes – there is certainly the promise of something a bit fresh and different. But, like the saga of Barrymore and Long’s real-life on/off relationship, does the film prove tiresome, or is it truly worth going the distance with this one?

When Erin (Drew Barrymore) hooks up with Garrett (Justin Long), neither of them expects their happy fling to outlast the summer. But when Erin heads home to San Francisco and Garrett stays behind for his job in New York, they realise they don’t want it to end. Garrett’s friends Box (Jason Sudeikis) and Dan (Charlie Day) don’t like losing their drinking buddy to yet another rocky romance, and Erin’s protective married sister Corrine (Christina Applegate) isn’t too pleased either. But despite the massive distance, the doubting friends and family and a few unexpected temptations, Erin and Garrett manage to find something that feels a lot like love. And with plenty of texting, ‘sexting’ and late-night phone calls, their unlikely relationship might actually be able to go the distance…

Considering that the director of Going the Distance comes from a documentary background you could be forgiven for expecting something innovative or insightful. Sadly, this film is neither. Like last year’s He’s Just Not That Into You (which, incidentally, also starred Justin Long and Drew Barrymore) this is a film that deals with serious real life relationship issues and one that certainly could have made some very interesting and humorous observations about long distance relationships. Instead, however, this is a film that is as tired and predictable as many a romcom, virtually every situation that arises being obvious and the outcome being completely predictable. This predictability might not be a problem if the film was at least charming but a tendency towards adult gross-out style humour lacking any sense of sophistication or class and a screenplay that is laden with needlessly filthy dialogue – some of the conversations between Garrett and his friends are more cringe worthy than they are funny – mean that charm is something that is in very short supply here. It doesn’t help that most of the humour isn’t even funny, the film only occasionally raising any laughs and then not big ones. Simply put, the film fails to bring on the funny and even attempts to leech off classic funny scenes from other films/TV shows fail – there is a spray tan scene reminiscent of a certain scene from Friends, only nowhere near as funny. This tiredness is evident elsewhere in the film as well with touches such as text messages between Garrett and Erin appearing on the screen for us to see being largely redundant and the founding early weeks of their relationship being rushed through in montage form. Fortunately, the film has a few saving graces. If you look past all the needless filth, the storyline at the heart of the film is solid and the performances from the leads are virtually faultless, even if it is perhaps less acting and more them just being themselves. Justin Long and Drew Barrymore have a terrific chemistry and just seem natural together on screen, being completely convincing as a madly in love couple. There is a real spark between them from the very first moment that their characters meet and they also convince as their relationship hits a rocky patch, perhaps drawing from their real life on/off relationship. They are also solid individually, Long being an amusing and likable everyman type and Barrymore being a very strong willed and independent romantic interest. Solid support is also provided by Christina Applegate, who makes a perfect neat freak, as well as Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. All this, however, is not enough to save the film from mediocrity and while the strong chemistry between Justin Long and Drew Barrymore provides a solid foundation, director Nanette Burstein’s complete lack of experience in the field of comedy shows. So, Going the Distance is just about watchable and if you do see it you may as well go the distance and sit through to the end but it is clear that the filmmakers themselves haven’t really gone the distance by making a film that is anything other than yet another mediocre Hollywood romantic comedy.



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Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)

© BRWC 2010.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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