Following the recent release of The Switch, it seems as if we have made yet another step in the right direction of the realistic romantic comedy with Going the Distance. Maybe not quite to the same extent as the former, but way better than that heightened, cookie cutter, romanticized nonsense, none-the-less.
When it comes to long distance relationships everyone always thinks that their love is stronger than the lack of proximity to their significant other, and Erin and Garrett are no exception. From the first day they knew that things couldn’t last because Erin would be moving back to California in six weeks, but quickly things escalate from “keeping it light.” Now they are stuck on opposite ends of the country with only texting, phone calls, and hope to keep them warm at night, wishing that eventually they will finally be able to live in the same city within the next year.
While together Drew Barrymore and Justin Long provide a great matching for this couple, working well off of each other (insert gossip about their on-again-off-again off-screen relationship here). Yet obviously relationships like this and the plans people have for them don’t always go according to plan. Which is where the likeability of these two actors comes into play. In all honesty a lot of the movie is not spent with the two characters forming their relationship, building it to the point where they want to fully commit to the impossible, yet it is hard not to root for them through it all and hope for the best even when in all honesty it is much more entertaining to watch them apart. Let me explain that little bit of nonsense. We can all spout out “aw” until the cows come home, but what makes this hilarious is how the two characters spend their time apart. What blooms from this separation are scenes of awkwardness in the attempt to keep the relationship going strong, such as Long cupping his man business in a spray tan booth for fear that he will scare the California girl away with his pasty skin (it may not live up to Ross overdoing it in Friends, but deserves just as many laughs non-the-less), and phone sex with the roommate giving his two cents through the wall. Basically we laugh because they fail in so many ways, yet still root for the best anyway.
All this time apart also means that we get to spend more time with the large number of amazing actors forming Erin and Garrett’s support systems, who more often than not steal the spotlight effortlessly. On Barrymore’s side there’s Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan. Applegate plays Barrymore’s older sister, making this antagonistically protective role truly hilarious thanks to her straight faced line readings, including about the serious nature of dry humping, showing once again that the higher ups decision to cancel Samantha Who? was a big mistake. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day act as Long’s best friends, and though Sudeikis does a great job Day wins of the two because of his endearingly random character. And finally, in the lesser capacity “Kristen Schaal Watch” continues with yet another tiny role to add to her imdb page, making the most of her minute or two of screen time. Seriously, this woman disserves far more than roles like “Female Bartender” at this point.
Every once in a while the girl in me loves to get the fairytale story of boy meets girl and they live happily ever after (genre clichés and all), but it is refreshing when a movie manages to keep the heartfelt story without losing its grip on reality. Going the Distance does just that, and if this is the way that a larger percentage of romantic comedies is going to go from now on then I am more than excited for the genre.
Final Grade: B