Going the Distance

Movie Information

The Story: A newly in love couple try to keep their relationship going despite being separated by a continent. The Lowdown: A formula-heavy romcom with a few good moments and pleasant leads, but not enough virtues to outweigh its flaws.
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture)
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston
Rated: R

After reading some interesting reviews that suggested that Nanette Burstein’s Going the Distance was better than it appeared from the trailers, I actually harbored a degree of hope upon finally seeing it. Well, the absolute best I can say is that it was reasonably painless most of the time—and that its best gag inspired me to want to take a certain friend of mine to a driving range and put the gag into practice the next time he is compelled to answer a text message in mid-conversation. Neither of these are what I would call sterling recommendations.

This is Romcom 101, with a plot so thin that it’s really just a premise. All the tropes are in place, from the wacky best friends of the hero to the quirky family of the heroine to the penultimate gloomy reel. It operates on the idea that if you take that formula and slather a coat of ersatz Judd Apatow raunch on top of it, pleasant leads like Drew Barrymore and Justin Long will carry the day. Nerts, as they used to say in the 1930s. Barrymore and Long are likable, but they aren’t likable enough to pull off this screenplay.

Barrymore plays Erin, a newspaper-reporter intern at a major New York City paper, whose internship is ending in six weeks. Naturally, this means she’ll meet cute—over a video game—with record promoter Garrett (Long), who has been freshly dumped by his latest girlfriend. It follows—thanks to convenient scripting—that the two will fall in love despite the finite nature of her tenure. That’s it, and you knew it going in. The rest of the film details their attempts to keep the relationship afloat via long distance. With a really witty script, this might have worked. But it soon transpires that first-time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe is more up on broad gags than wit and more concerned with mechanics than characters.

Still, the film isn’t a train wreck. It might have been more interesting if it had been. However, there are moments of genuine charm that come through every so often. There are even occasional gags and one-liners that filter through the generally pedestrian narrative. This means it’s not as lame as most of this year’s romantic comedies or as obnoxious as the rest. Now, whether that’s recommendation enough to go see it is up to you. Rated R for sexual content, including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “Going the Distance

  1. This has about the thinnest premise for a film I’ve heard in recent memory. “It’s a romantic comedy and the twist is: they live not near each other for some of the middle section of the film!!”

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.