Going the Distance (Warner Brothers Pictures, R)

Going the Distance feels a lot like watching a truncated version of a real relationship as it plays out. Will they be able to see each other for Christmas? Is Erin going to find a job in New York? Can phone sex really save their relationship when they haven’t seen each other in months?

 

 

 

Garrett (Justin Long) and Erin (Drew Barrymore) have a problem. After a whirlwind six-week fling, they realize that they weren’t able to keep things as "light" as they had planned. Most people wouldn’t consider falling in love to be a problem, but these two have one big issue standing in their way: Erin lives in San Francisco, while Garrett has his life in New York City.
I was praying with all my might that Going the Distance would turn out to be a different, better animal than your standard romantic comedy. Luckily, my prayers were answered. With 95 percent of films in the rom-com genre, I can rest assured that I know the saccharine, shopworn score. Not knowing how everything was going to shake out in Going the Distance threw me a little bit. But of course, that’s a good thing.
So, how does this movie veer away from the romantic comedy stereotypes? Well, how does the idea of a female character who isn’t terminally clumsy, lovelorn or a workaholic strike you? What do you think of a male lead without overbearing machismo, commitment issues or a permanent spot on the unemployment line? Novel, right?
Garrett and Erin are normal people, but this doesn’t mean that they’re boring. Both characters are justflawed and bawdy enough to make us care about them. A woman who thinks, "Shut up and lick, already," when a guy’s trying to please her is a woman you can root for. And doesn’t a guy who’s willing to swallow self-tanner to impress the lady he wants deserve true love?
Going the Distance feels a lot like watching a truncated version of a real relationship as it plays out. Will they be able to see each other for Christmas? Is Erin going to find a job in New York? Can phone sex really save their relationship when they haven’t seen each other in months? Are Erin’s sister and brother-in-law ever going to go back to real sex after so much dry humping?
Barrymore and Long, their real-life on-again-off-again relationship notwithstanding, look and feel like they belong together. Movies that feature romantic entanglements often show completely incongruous couples who meet in some cutesy way, hate each other and have to learn to appreciate each other’s wild differences. It was nice to see two characters with the same sense of humor, intelligence, goals and desire to make their relationship work. They were a refreshingly natural fit.
I know it’s just one movie, but this left me hopeful for a day when mainstream romantic comedies are more than a series of amorously themed pratfalls and punch lines.│Adrienne Jones

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