It’s not easy being a romantic comedy these days, with so many people just fed up with the same old junk spewed at us from the studios. The predictable and tired storylines have many men and women choosing to forgo the typical “date movie” for something a little more unconventional. This was proven by the box office numbers a few weeks back — a two-week-old action movie, a spoof and a children’s movie all beat out “The Switch” in tickets sales (“The Switch” came in eighth place its opening weekend, barely pulling in $8 million).
So, needless to say, director Nanette Burstein has her work cut out for her with “Going the Distance” being the first major movie she has directed. Most of her experience is with documentaries and producing television shows. New Line Cinema has taken a big gamble with letting an inexperienced director handle a major movie like this.
First, we meet Garrett (Justin Long) on the eve of his break up. He then goes out for drinks with his two quirky and off-beat best friends Box (Jason Sudeikis) and Dan (Charlie Day) to talk about it and get wasted. It’s no surprise to them and they tell him that his relationships always fail because he never fully commits to the girls and is therefore never 100 percent in the relationship. It’s on this fateful night at this particular bar that he runs into Erin (Drew Barrymore), an aspiring writer, and they bond over the love of a particular video game that they both play. After their one night stand, they decide to see each other again and exchange numbers. Erin tells him that she’s not looking for anything serious because she is only in New York for six weeks for a summer internship at a local newspaper. Garrett is fine with this since he doesn’t like serious and just got out of a relationship anyways. Well, it isn’t long before they start to have significant feelings for each other, but now it’s time for Erin to head back to California to finish her writing degree at college. Unable to say goodbye at the airport, they decide to continue their relationship and try the long distance thing. Now we see them with a series of phone calls, Skype dates, phone sex and the very rare visit to each other every few months. Can they work out the kinks that every long distance relationship has or like so many others are they doomed to fail?
The majority of the movie is Erin in San Francisco and Garrett in New York trying to find ways to keep the relationship alive and thriving. This is where all of the best scenes are, so I won’t go into detail about the second half of the movie. “Going the Distance” is not your typical romantic comedy for a multitude of reasons. First, it is rated R, so you get to see the true aspects of the adult dating life. Also, the script feels smart and fresh even though it has a few typical ingredients. And lastly, it’s an honest look at a relationship in different phases and doesn’t shy away from showing you the joy and pain that can come with it. This movie has the romantic side for the girls, but the comedy is definitely aimed more towards the guys, although females will enjoy it also.
Justin Long and Drew Barrymore make a believable couple, you honestly feel their connection and how can you not? Drew Barrymore’s character Erin is beautiful and likes to drink, play video games, and have fun; she is essentially every man’s dream girl, so you can see how easily Garrett falls for her. Although we get a lot of comedy from the two main characters, the majority of the laughs (and there were a lot, sometimes so loud you didn’t hear the next five lines) either come from awkward situations or the great supporting cast. Christina Applegate as Corrine, Erin’s older sister, is a bit O.C.D. when it comes to cleanliness and her husband Phil, played by Jim Gaffigan, are hilarious together and really play well off each other. But the majority of the laughs comes from Garrett’s two best friends, Box and Dan. Their conversations and way they view life had me cracking up constantly.
If “Going the Distance” was translated into Wonderland, they would be Tweedledum and Tweedledee. In particular, Charlie Day’s character Dan is just so ignorant and immature, he goes on a rant about, “With all the pigeons in New York City, why do you never see any baby pigeons?” and also likes to interject himself into Garrett’s love life just because he can hear what’s going on in the bedroom through the thin walls.
Bottom line: This movie is hilarious, surprisingly honest, shocking and just when you think they have pushed the boundaries far enough it “goes there.” This is an adult comedy, not one for those looking for a PG date or those who are easily offended.
I think “Going the Distance” does have widespread appeal for people of many ages and is one of the funniest comedies I have seen in months.
If any of this sounds appealing, you can check out “Going the Distance” in theaters Sept. 3. The movie is Rated R for sexual content, dialogue, language, drug use and brief nudity.
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