Going the Distance

2010-11-12 16:05
Going the Distance

What it's about:

Garrett (Justin Long) and Erin (Drew Barrymore) meet in a New York bar and have an instant connection. After a particularly strange one-night stand, Erin states that she can’t get into a relationship because she's moving back to San Francisco after six weeks. But they pair can't resist their attraction and fall hopelessly in love. They decide to give a long distance relationship a try, a situation that brings its own unique set of problems.

What we thought:

I have never been able to take Justin Long seriously. Typecast as the dorky sidekick in everything from There's Something About Mary to Die Hard 4 (or Live Free Die Hard if you're a, er, diehard fan) there was nothing about him that marked him as a leading man, nevertheless a romantic lead. That perception changed around the time of He's Just Not That Into You – a surprisingly effective romantic melodrama in which Long's playboy performance ventured into territory somewhere very close to sexual magnetism. It was weirdly alluring, to say the least.

To say that he and real-life love Drew Barrymore have chemistry is putting it mildly. Their long (and tumultuous) personal history is evident in every scene they share. There is an easy repartee, a familiarity and genuine affection that, let's face it, is easy to fake, but nonetheless adds to the charm and playfulness of their romance.

But it's not all roses and candy hearts with these two. Going the Distance places both Erin and Garrett at precarious points of their career trajectory. Both are in their early 30s and working in industries that are under threat - Erin is journalism student who struggles to find a permanent job at a city newspaper (how quaint), while Garrett is an earnest rock fan who works at a traditional record company that still presses and markets CDs (you know, those silver disc thingies with music on them). So even though things might work out between these two, the area of their lives that need the most work is their professional lives.

As a comedy, Going the Distance delivers laughs like it's second nature. It's been a long time since we've had the pleasure of a genuinely heartfelt romance that wasn't schmaltzy or blatantly desperate in attempting to land its jokes. Taking a leaf from the Judd Apatow School of Comedy, writer Geoff LaTulippe lets the seasoned cast of comedy actor run riot with a litany of raunchy gags that includes a Christina Applegate (as Erin's protective big sister Corine) being dry-humped by her husband. And she enjoys it.

The movie's standout scene-stealer is played by It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Day, who plays Dan, that other staple of the modern romantic comedy – the goofy roommate/best friend sidekick. Everything he says is ridiculous and no-one takes him seriously but his adorable simian traits make him the most dependable man to be in Garrett's corner. He has the perfect foil in Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis as Box, the seemingly well-adjusted friend who will go to any lengths to get laid. They’re hilarious together. Here’s hoping Day, in particular, enjoys Zach Galifianakis post-The Hangover-like levels of appreciation after this performance.

The best thing about Going the Distance is that it is best enjoyed by both the sexes. You won't learn anything new about how to deal with long-distance romance (has Hollywood ever given good, practical advice about love?) but it's sweet, bawdy, heartfelt and, most importantly, incredibly funny.

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A comedy about meeting each other half-way.

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