Film Reviews

GOING THE DISTANCE

By • Aug 27th, 2010 •

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Barrymore goes from Grey Gardens to this mess. I wanted all the characters to die violent deaths.

I should say I hate rom-coms. The last great one was MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING. But the star didn’t get the guy! What a twist!

What was the pitch for this movie without a story? And why did star Drew Barrymore ignore the dailies that showed that the director of photography, Eric Steelberg, made her look 40? He certainly does not serve co-star Justin Long either. You keep wondering: why him?

We will get to the lousy screenplay by Geoff LaTulippe and horrible directing by Nanette Burstein later. Yes, even the clothes are terrible.

Erin (Barrymore) is a 31-year-old newspaper intern. She is spending six weeks in New York City before going back to complete her degree in San Francisco. Record company employee Garrett (Justin Long) is commitment-phobic. But when they meet cute, they begin a casual romance. They fall in love and when Erin goes back to San Francisco, they begin a long distance romance.

Erin tries to land a job in New York and Garrett tries in San Francisco. Unable to secure employment, they try calls, Skype, and texting to keep the romance going. It is that boring. They try and fail miserably at phone sex. Why not sex tapes?

Following the worn-out rom-com template, Erin’s family consists of her disapproving sister Corrine (Christina Applegate) and her bullied husband. Garrett has two best friends, Dan and Box (Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis), who are creepy, vulgar and stupid. Well, let me correct that last comment. Everyone in GOING THE DISTANCE uses vulgar language. This makes it “edgy”?

LaTulippe’s screenplay goes nowhere except a predictable ending. In this era of bawdy comedies, you would think LaTulippe would take some imaginative chances. How about having Erin fall in love with a death row inmate and become his wife? Now that’s a long distance relationship with a big drawback – no conjugal visits. Director Nanette Burstein seems to have no interest in making either of her stars attractive and directs with an unsympathetic hand. You have to love your characters or we notice. If the director doesn’t like the characters, why should we?

The problem is Barrymore and Long. Barrymore is unable to appear on film without her characteristic facial tics and insufferable pronunciation. Only a strong director who keeps on top of Barrymore can correct these career-damning limitations. Playing a 31-year-old who acts like a 21-year-old is not career-enhancing. Barrymore’s reported infatuation with Long (now an ex-boyfriend), does not translate on screen. What is so fabulous about Long that Barrymore thought he would be the perfect romantic co-star?

What would have been more interesting is if they had put their real relationship on the screen. Sure, it would have been ugly, but think of how interesting it would have been?

As if to counter-balance Long’s appeal, his two friends are detestable. One of them is his roommate who insists on pooping with the bathroom door open.

GOING THE DISTANCE is another rom-com disaster coupled this month with Jennifer Aniston’s THE SWITCH. Doesn’t any agent know what to do with these women?

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