Fellas: if you’re dragged to a romantic comedy sometime soon, you could do a lot worse than Going the Distance. While it’s somewhat cliche in parts and features a story that brings nothing new to the genre of romantic comedy, the likability of Justin Long and Drew Barrymore – along with the support of Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis – help Going the Distance stand out as a watchable, enjoyable movie amongst the visual cyanide that are movies like The Bounty Hunter and pretty much anything with Katherine Heigl (I like Knocked Up, relax). I wouldn’t rush out to see it, but it’s got its moments, and I found myself laughing pretty hard on several occasions.
The story in Going the Distance, like I mentioned above, is really nothing new. Erin (Drew Barrymore), a waitress from San Fransisco, is spending the summer in New York City interning at a newspaper with the hope of soon becoming a full-time journalist. Garrett (Justin Long), who lives in New York City, works for a record label and reluctantly signs marketable pop bands in order to please The Man while scoping out real bands that play real music on the side. Garrett’s totally clueless when it comes to pleasing and romancing women, but that doesn’t stop him from dating pretty regularly. After his quasi-girlfriend leaves him – Garrett figured take-out dinner was acceptable as a birthday gift – Garrett heads to the bar with his buddies where he meets Erin over a game of Centipede.
Naturally, Garrett and Erin dig one another, and knowing that Erin is going back to San Francisco in six weeks when her internship is other, the two engage in a fun, anything-goes relationship. Naturally – again – Garrett and Erin fall for one another and end up having more feelings for one another than they had originally planned. They decide to begin a long-distance relationship and visit each other as often as possible (which isn’t very, being that airfare is ridiculously expensive), but as anyone who’s ever been in a long-distance relationship can attest, it’s much easier said than done.
Maybe it’s a testament to her acting ability, or maybe it’s just part of who she really is that shows up on screen, but I always felt that, unlike many other actresses, when Drew Barrymore plays the “cool” girl that can hang with the guys, it’s really not much of a stretch. Any girl who was married to Tom Green can’t be that prissy, right? For this reason, I’ve never really minded Drew Barrymore in romantic comedies (The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates come to mind), and she definitely has that aforementioned magnetism in Going the Distance. Likewise, Justin Long seems like the type of guy that never takes himself too seriously – many of his jokes are at his own expense – but he’s also not a complete dork and it’s easy to see how girls can be attracted to him. I usually prefer him a bit on the dorkier side (like in Dodgeball), but he’s pretty funny in this.
What helps more than the casting of Long or Barrymore, however, is the fact that this movie is rated R. When a movie is rated PG-13 – especially a romantic comedy – there’s a cap to how funny it can be. There aren’t going to be any jokes or references dealing with drugs or sex and there isn’t going to be any cursing, and so most of the humor will be recycled slapstick or situational. Going the Distance, which probably could have been marketed and just as successful commercially as a PG-13 movie, takes full advantage of its R rating. Erin and her sister (Christina Applegate) discuss dry humping and eye contact during cunnilingus, the banter between Erin and Garrett feels organic and flirty, and best of all, it allows Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis to do their thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the scenes involving Day and Sudeikis – which are pretty easily the funniest throughout the movie – were unscripted, as both of those guys are funny in pretty much anything they do. If you’re a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you already know that Charlie Day is one of the funniest people working today.
So why is Going the Distance merely watchable and not a great comedy? Simply because featuring a cast of very funny actors (Jim Gaffigan and Rob Riggle also appear) can only take you so far with a bland, generic script.
It’s not (500) Days of Summer, and it’s not Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but Going the Distance is still worth watching for the performances by its cast members, particularly the ones by Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis. There’s nothing offensively bad about this romantic comedy and it certainly does have its moments, but its impossible to deny that the movie does feel a bit stale due to its weak script. Again, don’t rush out and see this, but if you’re a guy and your girl wants to go, you’d be wise to save your resistance for something that’s actually bad.
3.25 out of 5 stars