GOING THE DISTANCE
BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JANUARY 27, 2011
One day after a breakup from an inability to cope with long distance, I went to see “Going The Distance,” a romantic comedy involving Justin Long and Drew Barrymore. The couple in the film comes to question whether love is enough to keep a romance blooming over an entire country’s length. Not only was “Going The Distance” entertaining, but it nailed the situation head-on.
Drew Barrymore’s comedy performances are hit or miss. I could split her anthology right down the middle. “Going The Distance” would fall on the “good” side and marked a perfect performance for the gracefully aging actress. Barrymore finds a way to hone ideal timing and delivery to be fresh and funny, an element lacking in most romantic comedies these days. From the moment we meet her, she is cussing like a sailor and devouring saucy buffalo wings. Barrymore signifies that the perfect woman can be imperfect, breaking a stereotype of Hollywood that the female love interest in a film has to be a knock-out.
Interaction gives “Going The Distance” the “step up” concerning other films in its genre. The interaction between Justin Long and his friends, played by Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, causes most of the humor. All romantic comedies give the lead a pair of friends (or just one, but who is counting). I have developed a theory that a film can only be as funny as the friends you give the main character. If the friends are not funny, the film is not funny. Charlie Day is one of my favorite comedy actors to date. The director smartly lets Charlie loose, allowing him to be the eccentric character he is known for in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Even Sudeikis finds a way to win me over.
Having had doubts about the mix-match pairing of Drew Barrymore and Justin Long (yes, I know they were/are dated/dating outside the film, but still), their interactions were surprisingly entertaining. The way they play off each other was just another difference that set it apart from the raunchy romantic comedies. It made the film feel more like “My Best Friends Wedding” or “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” which I deem successfully humorous. You laugh with the couple when they are blossoming, and your heart breaks when they reach their low points, but the writers and director masterfully craft a story that hooks and inspires you.
“Going the Distance” was a film that hit close to home. I compared my real-life relationship to it every step of the way, and even though it bashed some of my hopes and wishes for getting back together with my ex, the film still held a good message. Sure, there were times I hoped that Justin Long would end up with actress Kelli Garner (the work friend, hottie, temptress) just because of my on-the-fence-ness with Drew Barrymore. Still, the whole film felt true and honorable, especially to someone with first-hand experience with the premise.
September 3, 2010
Warner Bros. Pictures
(for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity)
June Diane Raphael