D: Nanette Burnstein. DP: Eric Steelberg. W: Geoff LaTulippe. Starring: Drew Barrymore/Justin Long/Christina Applegate/Jason Sudeikis/Charlie Day/Kelli Garner/Ron Livingston/Jim Gaffigan/Rob Riggle/Leighton Meestler/Sarah Burns/Kristen Schaal.
Tis the time for a few more entries into the romcom library. As weather cools down, clothes cover up, will you be going to the movies to fall in love?
Going the Distance is the first in this fall’s onslaught of films about relationships. A debut script from Geoff LaTulippe does well in bringing a smidgen of freshness to the romcom genre. Audiences won’t feel harassed by the end of the film as it lacks the usual girl chases guy, guy chases girl humdrum of usual films in this category. However, his comedy is so limited that any sense of freshness is lost by its conclusion. LaTulippe consistently goes one, two or even three times too far with his joke and his script has whole sections that seem more like sound bites rather than organic conversation.
Within Going the Distance it is clear that this was a nice, cute pet project for on/off again actor couple Barrymore and Long. I wish the film gave the actors a better chance to show off their chemistry as there are really only one or two scenes that support their feelings for each other. Feelings that are obviously put to test by the physical distance put between the two of them. Yet although the long distance concept feels new it ends up dragging the film around with it as it doesn’t quite know what real opinion on the subject it has.
Thankfully, both Barrymore and Long seem content in minimizing their star quality and giving some realness to Erin and Garret. Audiences can believe Erin’s messy and off track life, but haven’t we seen this girl from Barrymore before? She hardly ever gets a laugh and the comedy overall seems to be limited to crass sights and sounds. All sense of comedy physicality is gone. Long is the safe Joe Schmoe guy he morally plays, but is he leading man material? Throughout Going the Distance audiences will almost suspect Barrymore doesn’t quite believe this grown up kid is her ‘leading man.’ Or is that just the romcom genre conventions talking? Either way, audiences will be left unsatisfied, much like the supporting cast who are diminished to archetypes and gags.
Thankfully in the end the gimmick of the couple’s distance apart, the relatability of the situation and its honestly will save Going the Distance humiliation. However, nothing can save its flatness. Just like the text happy, phone sex, and chopped communication world we live in, the film’s ignorance of cohesiveness made me relieved to call it quits.