Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate
Director: Nanette Burstein
Writer(s): Geoff LaTulippe
Cinematography: Eric Steelberg
Original Score: Mychael Danna
Chemistry, now there’s something you need to get right for a rom-com to work, if your leads don’t have it your up the creek without a paddle as they say. This is a problem Going the Distance overcomes from the off seeing as Barrymore and Long are an offscreen, on/off couple for real, something which works wonders for the film in the same way that Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel did in last year’s (500) Days of Summer, a film which Going the Distance clearly draws on. Alas it doesn’t quite have the same unique script or excellent direction something which marks it down as somewhat inferior, that said (500) Days of Summer is a rather high benchmark.
With this in mind, and when positioned against the glut of rom-com’s we see cluttering up cinema screens (Valentines Day, The Back Up Plan, Couples Retreat…zzzz), Going the Distance is still head and shoulders above them prving to be both consistently funny and romantic without resorting to schmaltzy and sickening lovey dovey scenes, in other words this is a fair representation of real relationships in a real world given a poignant but ultimately entertaining spin. This may seem a little trite but for me a rom-com is made or broken on that mantra and one which has seen the likes of (500) Days of Summer and The Last Kiss feature a some of my all time favourite films.
As with those two excellent examples Going the Distance takes a common problem not often tackled in relationships in film yet still retains the staple ingredients of your avergae rom-com, the first meet, the almost break-up, the collection of close friends, but in truth it is nailing each of these elements that will win an audience over, connecting through likeable characters and a believable script. As we all know Drew Barrymore has the girl-next-door vibe down to a T, shes the tomboy we all want especially when she unleashes that cackling dirty laugh while Long is an actor long overdue a big break, this won’t be it but it sure helps show why he deserves much more credit than he gets, as I said together the pair spark up[ some great chemistry and when they have to make the decisions that will take them miles apart hence the title) you will likely empathise yourself or fully embrace the plight as your own!
Thankfully while the plot itself keeps the couple apart for long stretches we are spared the dull stretches in-between with a plot that whizzes back and forth between an exquisitely photographed San Francisco and New York, the fairytale versions that all young couples yearn to live in, keeping the pair company sane for their solo time are the usual suspects, Long has his crazy, laddish but thoroughly great mates and Barrymore has her over-bearing but well-meaning sister, Christina Applegate as the sister comes across as something of a bitch which maybe the point but if there were a villain, she would be it, which surely was not the intention!
It is in these stock character’s that the film somewhat loses the indie credibility it seems to crave, something which doesn’t undermine the experience but rather makes for a mixed bag, thakfully though the central couple afe always on hand to add some truth to relationships (in the best possible way) in the movies where most fail.
Going The Distance is a mainstream rom-com that strives to be indie and fails on that count yet through this rises to be better than most other’s in the genre, largely thanks to the central pairing.