– Summary –
Director : Nanette Burstein
Year Of Release : 2010
Principal Cast : Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate, Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis, Ron Livingston, Rob Riggle.
Approx Running Time : 103 Minutes
Synopsis: Two people living at opposite sides of the USA struggle to maintain a long distance relationship.
What we think : Surprisingly sweet romantic comedy hits the mark for fun, yet feels a whole lot like you’ve been-there-done-that… and we have, many many times. The tried and true romantic comedy formula plays out exactly as it should, offering nothing new while at the same time delivering a welcome respite from dull, dreary Jennifer Aniston movies. Barrymore cruises through this, Justin Long is a solid leading man, and the backup cast all feel like they’re reading the playbook on rom/com films; it’s funny, sweet, and in the end utterly forgettable.
As an affirmed non-fan of the Hollywood romantic comedy genre, Going The Distance was one of those films I’d walked past a number of times at the rental store with precision and calculated avoidance. While I get that actresses like Drew Barrymore have to earn a living, part of me wishes they’d take on the challenge of decent roles and further the feminist movement instead of simply starring opposite a string of leading men to make sappy romantic faff and earn a paycheck. Names like Aniston, Lopez and Heigl keep cropping up in so-called “romantic comedies” that offer as much intellectual stimulation as sleeping, and while it’s easy for folks to say “yeah, but there’s nothing wrong with that” it’s my right as a male human being to state that there’s nothing entirely right with it either. The humble chick flick has come a long way since the early days of Danielle Steele romances made their way into our lives, although considering the advances in aspects of film like CGI, visual effects, digital cameras and mega-budget extravaganzas, not a lot has changed in this humble genre. Going The Distance rolls out just about every cliche in the book – a handsome thirtysomething music scout (Justin Long) in New York falls for a thirtysomething girl (Drew Barrymore) trying to make her way in the big bad world, only to learn she’s soon moving back to San Francisco – they have a fling, expecting it to be just that, but soon they find themselves falling for each other. As with most good romances, the path to true love and happiness is beset by obstacles, including kooky best friends offering advice, job offers and drinking at bars; Going The Distance manages to hit every single genre mark along the way.
You’d never call Going The Distance original. In fact, it’s so unoriginal I’m surprised the filmmakers weren’t sued into oblivion by all the ideas of others they’ve conveniently pinched to make their movie. That being said, the formula works this time out thanks to the wonderful chemistry between the two leads, Long and Barrymore. The script feels uneven, the characters are thinly written (aren’t they always in films like this?) and the movie seems to hinge upon the weird casting of Long’s flatmates and friends to deliver the majority of the humor, but the erstwhile direction from Nanette Burstein and the sweet-natured rapport the cast all have keep things flowing smoothly. You notice the flaws, and can pick the majority of what’s going to happen a mile away, but I had a good chuckle and was pleasantly surprised at just how much I did enjoy this one. Drew Barrymore plays the same character in all these films, I think, and once more does her quirky Good Girl routine against Justin Long’s inadequate-but-sweet Good Guy, and their chemistry together is nice to watch. The central theme of the film – long distance relationships – is given tacit focus for a bit, but is never really explored like it should be. The film had potential to go somewhere new, offer something tangible to the viewers, but it doesn’t. There’s plenty of gentle belly-laughs here, but not a lot of definitive mental stoking. Is it a good film? No. Did I enjoy it? Against my better judgement, yes, I did. It’s not faultless, but then, there’s not to many films that are, but in saying that there’s plenty this film could have done better – or differently – to set it apart as a romantic comedy. Going The Distance, and I’m gonna regret saying this, is better than you’d think.
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