Director: Nanette Burstein
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis
You can almost hear studio execs thinking up the idea of a long-distance relationship during the kooky animated credits. With its oh-so-witty title, Going the Distance clearly thinks its onto a winning concept. And it is a topic that hasn't really been focused on in a film before. But in the year of Sex and the City 2 and The Back-Up Plan, Going the Distance is original for a completely different reason: it's really good.
Erin (Barrymore) is a wannabe journalist on placement in New York, frustrated that her career isn't taking off. Garrett (Long) is a monkey at a record company, angry that his label doesn't sign the talent that deserves to be heard. When Erin goes to blow off steam in a bar she bumps into Garrett. They promptly bond over a shared love of Top Gun.
Going back to Garrett's bedroom, their making out gets DJ-ed by Dan (Day), Garrett's oddball flatmate. It sounds quite cliched and obvious - yes, Garrett has a bromance going on with both Dan and his friend Box (Sudeikis) - but while the cast ape Judd Apatow's style, there's a gritty rawness to the whole movie that keeps it from going stale.
It helps that Drew and Justin are in a real on-off off-screen relationship, giving the couple an instant, effortless chemistry. So when Erin has to go back home to San Francisco, 3,000 miles away, the strain on the relationship feels more sincere than a plot device; both are believable characters, as shown by their struggle to balance life with their careers, or by having a female lead who enjoys playing Caterpillar on arcade machines more than clothes shopping. Even Erin's sarcastic and over-protective sister (Applegate) seems like more than just a foil to voice her work-life angst. That's partly down to her bitter and unhappy husband (a great turn from Jim Gaffigan).
There are moments that feel a tad formulaic (a supposedly shocking moment of sex on a dining table, a bit with a fake sun-tan) but the whole thing works thanks to the movie's honest tone. Working from Geoff LaTulippe's screenplay, Nanette Burstein uses her documentary background to make something that rings truer than American Teen ever did - most obviously in a string of improvised first dates shot on handhelds around New York, which bring out the funny in both Barrymore and Long.
The supporting cast, meanwhile, are all clearly trying hard to generate laughs, but they often hit the mark (when Garrett's mourning his love life, their advice is "if you want to get really f*cked up, we can listen to the Garden State soundtrack").
Comfortable with its freewheeling mood, Going the Distance's gags are balanced with serious drama, real relationship obstacles and a nice dollop of sweet romance. Oh, and the soundtrack gets a boost from The Boxer Rebellion's live performances too. There's nothing stunningly new in Going the Distance. But there's a lot that's noticeably good.
Drew and Justin make sparks fly in this natural, likeable movie. Unlike most rom-coms this year, Going the Distance is worth making the trip to see.
Want more Drew and Justin action? Check out our interviews with them at Going the Distance's world premiere over here.
- american teen
- charlie day
- christina applegate
- drew barrymore
- geoff latulippe
- going the distance
- jason sudeikis
- jim gaffigan
- justin long
- long distance relationship
- nanette burstein