Review by Diana Saenger
The idea of an R-rated romantic comedy already places three balls in the air to juggle. Throw in a long-distance relationship plus excessively vulgar language, and something has to give. Unfortunately, in Going the Distance it’s the film’s plot/conception that transforms what could have been an entertaining movie for me into one I wish I’d passed on.
Justin Long & Drew Barrymore
When Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) meet during a night out in Manhattan, neither is ready for a long-term relationship. Garrett lives in New York City and works for a record label. Erin, a Stanford University intern at a New York City newspaper, hopes to be offered a permanent job there.
Erin and Garrett are like magnets, spending all their time together. When Erin doesn’t get the job she wants and must return to San Francisco, the two agree to have a long-distance and monogamous relationship. Because neither has extra funds, that means no quickie trips to visit each other.
Christina Applegate & Drew Barrymore
Since their relationship hasn’t been cemented by their togetherness, their phone sex dates don’t work. The audience is thus left to figure out each character separately. Erin runs around with little self esteem, begging for a job but putting zero effort in trying to get it. At 31, her clock is ticking, yet she avoids the positive advice from her sister (Christina Applegate) that a long-distance relationship won’t work. Sis becomes really annoyed when she finds Erin and Garrett humping on her dining room table – and that about sums up her opinion of Garrett.
Garrett seems stuck in some “I’m not sure about anything” wonderland. The only thing that’s constant in his world are his off-color and immature roommates (Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis) who listen in on his lovemaking with Erin – and make comments – while they’re in the act or treat the audience to a long scene of one on them on the toilet while having a conversation with the others.
With Long and Barrymore being a real-life couple, one would expect the sexual chemistry between them to work. Although in reality there’s only a few years difference in their ages, Barrymore looks and acts much older than Long. It’s especially apparent in this movie where her character is a 31 year-old desperately trying to find her way. Kind of late to be going to college and jobless, don’t you think? And getting so drunk she doesn’t know how she got home or smoking drugs is not befitting the romantic comedy genre.
Garrett, on the other hand, comes across like a guy who enjoys his work but doesn’t know how to get past living paycheck to paycheck. Although admitting his love for Erin, he appears just as content to live with his toilet-humor buddies who have no plans for their lives other than picking up girls.
Without a target audience, Going the Distance is lost on its own journey. Just when I thought I might get hooked, the gross-out language made me disengage from the story completely. It’s too full of silly lovey-dovey talk to be the badly behaved Hangover knock-off it wants to be. Yet the irritating and inane behavior of Garrett’s roommates – which takes up too much of this film – place it in the Hot Tub Time Machine category. Whoever thought they could mix toilet-humor and endless vulgarity with romance has done a big injustice to these otherwise likeable lead stars.
Viewers longing to see a great romantic comedy centered around a newsroom should check out Love is News (1937) with Tyrone Power, Loretta Young and Don Ameche. It’s hard to beat the classics!
Photo credits: Jessica Miglio / Warner Bros. Pictures
guys who don’t want real relationships