Barrymore and her boytoy are bicoastal lovers in Going the Distance
By Pamela Zoslov
The lengthy running time (102 minutes) of Going the Distance, a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and her current boyfriend, Justin Long, coupled with its wearily predictable ending, allows the viewer ample time to think about the relentless demands of commercial moviemaking. In this case, a gifted documentary filmmaker, Nanette Burstein, whose portraits of young boxers (On the Ropes) and high school students (American Teen) were noteworthy for their emotional realism, is given the difficult task of making something new and different from the formulaic story of a couple separated by miles and trying to make a long-distance relationship work. With first-time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe, Burstein tries mightily to bring some believability to the story — witty, improvisational-style dialogue, an acknowledgement of the sagging recessionary job market — only to be largely defeated by the necessary clichés of the
One necessary evil is the casting. Barrymore, never quite as talented or charming as her family legacy implies, looks a bit haggard for the ingénue role she’s playing, and Long has a long way to go before being considered leading-man material. Barrymore and Long, despite being a real-life couple, generate little charisma or erotic heat. Barrymore plays Erin, a clever 31-year-old graduate student who is a superannuated intern for a mythical
Another necessary evil is plot mechanics, which require a labored exposition of the challenges of Erin and Garrett’s separation, handled with frequent phone calls, texts, split-screen guffaws over a sneezing-panda YouTube video, sexual jealousy, comically failed phone sex, and occasional sex-charged reunions. Since the couple are less interesting than the supporting characters — the funny Sudeikis and Day, and lovely Christina Applegate (Married With Children) as
The relationship reaches a crisis point when Erin, attempting the quixotic feat of obtaining a full-time job as a newspaper reporter, receives an offer from a major paper that will keep her on the West Coast, leaving Garrett to sulk petulantly in his dumpy
Overlong and meandering, the movie has trouble maintaining a consistent tone. Naturalistic scenes reside uncomfortably beside slapstick sequences — Garrett dodging wild spray at a fake-tan salon,
Originally published in Cleveland Scene.