In the newest pairing of sassy sweetheart Drew Barrymore and on-again off-again real life love Justin Long, viewers are caught up in a whirlwind of the rather accurate relationship complications of Going the Distance.
The film, directed by Nanette Burstein, centers on Erin and Garrett, two young New Yorkers who meet and fall in love during a six-week fling. Immediately, their rapport and personalities make for a compatible match. There’s only one problem — Erin is leaving. An aspiring journalist self-admittedly off her life track at age 31, Erin is currently still in grad school at Stanford. She is only in New York as an intern at her dream job newspaper. As she prepares for departure, Garrett, a man with commitment issues, takes a chance on love and the two agree to make things work long distance. That is where things get interesting.
This is the first non-documentary project directed by Burstein who is behind the highly successful and very real life American Teen. Her background perhaps makes her perfect to tell the story of unconventional relationships and at times, the film even dips in to a documentary shooting style. As for long-time screen gem Drew Barrymore and endearing Justin Long, connecting with an audience is well rehearsed. Modern situations and dialogue are penned by Geoff LaTulippe in his first project.
What makes a viewer connect to this film is how blatantly obvious it is that the two characters are perfect for each other. Despite outside forces that continually try to tear them apart, such as the failing economy, disapproving family, and beautiful coworkers, you can’t quite picture the pair with anyone else. They keep in touch via today’s best technologies like the webcam and they develop their relationship from sea to shining sea.
The acting is decent and the writing is witty. Christina Applegate offers up quite a humorous approach to Erin’s protective older sister. Comic relief is also provided by Garrett’s two best friends, and refreshingly, by the two main characters themselves. This is a couple not afraid of the humorous side of their situation.
Still, where this film has trouble is deciding whether it is a crude comedy or a romantic one. The jokes often seem out of place and unnecessary. Fleeting scenes of drug use and bathroom humor may be efforts to appeal to the boyfriends in the audience but, while at times eliciting a laugh, put this viewer on guard. If I hadn’t been forewarned I would have come expecting a simple romance. I may have been repulsed beyond. As it was, I accepted it and completely enjoyed myself.
This was an interesting take on the story of two people separated by geography but bound by a perfect friendship. With previous success in the blending of romance and crass humor proved by films such as Knocked Up, this trend may be becoming more widely accepted and overall you still get a fulfilling romantic comedy with genuinely funny parts and the occasional urge to shake your head.