Going the Distance: Covers Some Honest & Hilarious Ground

3 09 2010

Going the Distance stars on-again-off-again couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. One of the few R-rated romantic comedies to be released in a while, the movie is definitely targeted towards young adults. Going the Distance is a very modern and contemporary take on the romantic comedy. Here’s the breakdown:

Erin is a struggling writer in New York. Garrett is a struggling music producer in New York. When they meet, sparks fly – but when Erin’s newspaper internship comes to an end, she must head to California to try and find a job. Not wanting to end things, Garrett and Erin decide to try a long distance relationship. What follows is a cross-country, honest portrait of love and loss.

The Monkey: Barrymore and Long are talented actors, both dramatic and comedic, and their real-world chemistry translates wonderfully on-screen. At several points in the movie, it seems as if you’re watching a reality show; their interaction is so natural and convincing.

Going the Distance tackles a subject that most movies use as a subplot. Sure, long distance relationships show up in movies all the time, but rarely is that the basis for the story. Going the Distance takes this premise and runs with it, highlighting the difficulties, frustrations, rewards and humor that such a relationship entails. And it does all this honestly. Not once did I feel the movie was pushing the plot uncharacteristically, or that the characters were making stereotypical or illogical decisions. This lent a certain amount of believability and relatability that many romantic comedies – many movies – lack. And with discussions about jobs, money, location, sex, technology and family, Going the Distance touches on key issues that anyone in any kind of relationship can relate to. I especially loved how the movie  tackled the differences between “sacrifice” and “compromise,” two ever-present words in relationships – while compromise is expected, sacrifice might be taking it too far.

In addition to the truly organic nature of the storytelling, the movie was also incredibly funny. There was something fresh about seeing an unsanitized romantic comedy, complete with swearing and dirty jokes; it makes you feel (depending on your crowd) that you’re just hanging out with friends at a bar – the conversation’s not always Sunday morning approved, but it’s often funny! Going the Distance knows its audience and treats its audience like adults – no sugar-coating or over-the-top frills that so many of these genre movies force down theatre-goers’ throats.

While the ending was relatively predictable, the way the movie got there wasn’t.

The Weasel: Many of the supporting characters were disappointingly two-dimensional. While Garrett’s roommates and Erin’s sister provided many laughs, this is one place Going the Distance fell back on tried-and-true movie tropes. They could have used a bit more attention and character development to bring them up to par with the rest of the movie.

A smart movie that doesn’t try to pander to an audience – and hilarious to boot.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was Going the Distance a successful romantic comedy? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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