Sep. 07, 2010 - Issue #777: The Sex Issue 2010
Going the DistanceGoing the Distance is kinda sorta, y'know, just trying to be a casual rom-com about two thirtysomethings slowly coming together even though they live 4000 kilometres apart. It figures the title's a sexual metaphor, since so many characters—not least our geographically separated lovers, journalism grad student Erin (Drew Barrymore) and record-label employee Garrett (Justin Long)—talk so much about wanting "to put some of my things into some of her things." But the movie feels too much like a shrugging shuffle around the bases. Still, some of the second-stringers hit it out of the park and the game has its moments, especially in the final stretch.
Our star-crossed lovers can't quite escape seeming like love-crossed stars, Barrymore being Barrymore and Long being Long, trading half-quips, half-realistic lines. Their jobs and the plot seem like something out of a Nick Hornby book-turned-film but, beyond some sex-talk, Facebook questions (favourite movie; best get-out-of-a-bad-date line), and workplace or bar conversations, what actually clicks between Erin and Garrett? Not that there isn't intimacy—there are enough kissing and sex scenes here to make us feel like these two could use more privacy from our prying eyes—but a NYC street café/dancing on the beach/walking through neighbourhoods sequence, scored to "Just Like Heaven," sums up the flick as a mostly semi-sweet, semi-clichéd confection.
The surrounding cast picks up some of the slack. As Garrett's a-little-too-close buddies Dan and Box, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis offer Seinfeldian commentary on Garrett's masturbation habits or the sexual-nostalgia benefits of a moustache for picking up older ladies. In Erin's corner, Christina Applegate's an amusingly frank sister and uptight mother whose husband (Jim Gaffigan) is an affable dope with a preference for dry humping.
Still, scenes are overscored, there are more references to dicks than in a Judd Apatow boxset, and the story's too episodic, with little tension other than will-they-stay-together? A nicely touchy moment, where two husbands get pissy with Garrett because he can be a no-responsibilities loverboy while they're "in the trenches" with wives and families, dribbles away.
The charm and spark come at last in the movie's final moments, set against an indie band's slow-building opener at a concert. Getting beyond Erin and Garrett's arrested-development—shot-glasses of angst and darting lines about sex—the movie finds some genuine sweetness when it finally grows up. The movie's amiable stroll through a relationship hits its stride and Going the Distance actually takes us somewhere kinda sorta interesting.
Directed by: Nanette Burstein
Written by: Geoff LaTulippe
Featuring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate
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