This Week at the Movies: “Going the Distance”

Romantic comedies have an inherent problem built into their own genre: they take the elements of both a comedy and romance and synthesize them into an all-together better and more fulfilling experience. It is a good idea considering how funny love, sex and everything involving the opposite sex is. The majority of these movies, however,  just kind of fumble on one part or the other.  And that is how Going the Distance, directed by Nanette Burstein and written by Geoff LaTulippe, falls short. While the movie has some genuinely funny moments, the story itself is contrived and predictable, ultimately making the film mediocre.

Garret (Justin Long) is a lowly record producer living in New York who recently broke up with his girlfriend. Erin (Drew Barrymore) is a summer intern at a New York newspaper who has not been having the best time. They meet at a bar. They hook up. They both say they are not looking for something serious, especially since Erin is leaving to finish grad school in San Francisco in six weeks. They decide to keep things casual. Of course, that does not work out and they become attached at the hip. When it comes time for Erin to leave, they can not stand to break it off and decide to do the long-term thing. Drama ensues.

If you or anyone you ever knew has been in a long-distance relationship, you will be able to spot every twist and turn in this movie right down to the very end. Now, normally, this would be okay considering it is a pretty relatable subject, but the writing is just so bad. Like, really bad. Like, whenever the couple talks about how much they love and care about each other, it is so mushy and exaggerated that it could make you puke. The most redeeming quality of it all, though, is Garret’s roommates, who provide a good amount of the comedy in this movie. Their conversations and strategies for picking up chicks are great and work well to contrast Garrett and Erin. But whenever they are off-screen, the movie just is not at its potential.

The movie itself is well put together. It is vibrant and colorful with some cool wipe effects to illustrate travel and distance. Nothing too dramatic was done that really catches the eye, though. Mainly, it consists of a lot of shots of New York and San Francisco to ground the viewer, considering the location changes a lot. There are some instances where bubbles appear over their heads to illustrate texting, but those can be more annoying than cute.  The sound track is fantastic though, with a brilliant mix of ‘80s sob songs, classic rock and newer indie hits. The music really adds an extra layer of interest and helps some of the duller moments in the movie.

All in all, Going the Distance is not that great of a movie. Maybe if you are just a die-hard fan of romantic comedies, then this one is right at the top of your list. For the rest of us, the movie fluctuates too much between funny and stupid to merit a really serious viewing. If you want a movie to take a girl on a date with, this is probably a pretty safe bet that you will both enjoy to a certain extent. Everyone else might want to look for something a little better.