Going the Distance Directed by: Nanette Burstein Cast: Drew Berrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis Running Time: 1 hr 49 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 3, 2010
PLOT: Garrett (Long) finally finds a woman (Barrymore) he cares about, unfortunately she's moving in six weeks. They'll attempt to make the long distance relationship (from New York to San Fransisco) work.
WHO'S IT FOR? Guys, are you sick of sitting through romantic comedy crap like The Back-up Plan and Leap Year? Yes, you are, and so are most women though they have a tougher time admitting it. This romance gives you reality, charm and funny.
EXPECTATIONS: Well, there's a slew of people I love in this one. Barrymore is hit or miss. I was shocked The Switch worked with such a lame premise, so now I had a little hope.
Justin Long as Garrett: Can you believe that Warren Cheswick has it in him? I've watched Long since the days of the TV show "Ed" and he's come a long from nerdom. Now I have faith that he can play a relatable leading man in a romantic comedy. From the beginning we see his subtle fear of commitment and inability to catch the signals from his girl. Garrett doesn't know exactly what he wants, and when Erin comes into his life there is no pressure to commit. After all, she'll be gone in six weeks. That's an easy way to get attached. Once there is distance Garrett doesn't fall prey to any guy clichés and when they argue, he has reason to be upset. Score: 8
Drew Barrymore as Erin: I like. She's likable. She's also more interesting to look at then 95 percent of other actresses. The way her mouth moves in ten different ways when she speaks is cute. At first it's a red flag when Erin is only an intern at the newspaper. But then there's the small side topic of "late start" and "ex-boyfriend" and it fits perfectly into this film. I can relate and just like with Garret, isn't that one of the most important things with the romantic comedy? I can see these characters as real people, only funnier. Score: 8
Charlie Day as Dan: I miss Charlie from "It's Always Sunny For Philadelphia." Actually, I should say that I missed Charlie. The character of Dan is like a mild Charlie from the TV show. You get your fix. He's a little more sane, but then again he also accidentally does a Hitler impersonation. It's one of the funnier moments. In fact, Dan is normally around when you're laughing during this film. Score: 9
Christina Applegate as Corinne: This is the best sister/girlfriend sidekick in a romantic comedy since Leslie Mann as Debbie in Knocked Up. Corinne loves her sister, protects her sister and also has to clean up after her sister after there's a little sex on the dining room table. The addition of being a clean freak is perfect and Applegate nails this part. Not only that, she's playing opposite a guy who's mere existence is funny, let alone the fact that his character is in love with Boston Market. Score: 10
Rest of cast: Jason Sudeikis is Box, a man with a mustache. Isn't that enough? Jim Gaffigan and Rob Riggle get a moment to rant about being married. Ron Livingston and Leighton Meester show up in roles that are normally filled by no-names. Kristen Schaal makes the most of her few minutes on screen. Natalie Morales is almost a dead-ringer for Amanda Peet. Going the Distance is filled with funny people who are given a chance to be funny. Score: 10
TALKING: If you quirk a movie stereotype, I'm a fan. That's what Going the Distance does. When Erin discovers Garrett's apartment has thin walls ... wait. I'm saving that for my favorite moment. Instead, let's talk about the little moments of dialogue they get right. There are the late night phone calls and the texting (which is quick and amusing). There's also plenty of rated R talk, including quality rants on going down on women and masturbation. This movie even makes good use of book-ending a baby pigeons joke. Score: 9
SIGHTS: The travel graphics are quick (most important) and cute. The gag of the spray tan felt a little like Ross' experience on "Friends" but thankfully, Garrett didn't end up brown like Kramer from "Seinfeld." The sex on the dining room table was fantastic. I wouldn't be able to eat the corn after that either. Score: 9
SOUNDS: Before we get to The Boxer Rebellion, let's talk about the rest. The 80s haven't filled up a soundtrack this successfully in a long time. Thin walls lead to musical moments with the roommates that include Top Gun and Dirty Dancing. Even better, Cake's "The Distance" didn't show up. Thank god. The Boxer Rebellion better be the director's favorite band. Or someone Long has been loving for years. That's how I have justified it. Because here's thing, I liked them and their music in the movie. I already bought their album and will probably buy the soundtrack. I just don't want this to be a product that I gobbled up. I don't want the studio to be pushing a new band and executives forced everyone attached to this movie to play ball. Score: 10
BEST SCENE: As I started to mention in the "Talking" section, Erin realizes Garrett's apartment walls are very thin. Dan makes his presence known as he starts to DJ their make-out session. She acts like she's upset (typical romantic comedy moment) only she's not. She plays it like one of the guys and it's a good laugh.
ENDING: Wow, they didn't go for extreme cheese. They made sure the last thing you did was laugh. Job well done.
QUESTIONS: There are two "tells" here right? One, Garrett talks about how someone should care about bands like The Boxer Rebellion. Two, Erin correctly points out that Garrett doesn't like his job. I wish both these things could have been cut. Then, I really would have had no idea what the "right" answer would be. That being said, I'm a big fan that they still added a little twist with the ending.
REWATCHABILITY: I would watch this one again in the theater. This time, I'd want my wife along for the ride and maybe another couple as well.
With Going the Distance, the title is the only bad part. This isn't a sports movie. But let's move on to the good stuff.
Most romantic comedies follow a safe pattern that is easily recognizable to the core audience who doesn't want to think and just wants to escape. For most, if you introduce a sexy co-worker while your partner is away, you know there's going to be a messy moment. Not here. Here, if it's used at all, it's done for a joke. Every scene is an effective moment that hits its mark and moves on.
At first, I didn't realize I was sitting down to a rated-R flick. But two f-bombs and some guy talk made me well aware. Sure, they won't make as much money because PG-13 normally makes more. Instead they when for quality, and didn't water down the relationship/sex talk. Nanette Burstein cares about entertaining a romantic comedy audience. This is the best of the genre since (500) Days of Summer.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10