Thursday, September 2, 2010

Going the Distance (New Line Cinema)

By Harry Forbes

It’s difficult not to like Drew Barrymore even under the worst of circumstances – and I’m sorry to say that “Going the Distance,” a lumbering romantic comedy considerably short of both descriptors, is pretty much the worst of circumstances – but she stretches our tolerance to the limit here.

She plays 30-something aspiring reporter Erin who, during an internship at a New York newspaper, meets mid-level record company guy Garrett played by her real life off-and-on-again real-life beau Justin Long. When her internship ends, and she must return to the west coast, they decide to continue the relationship long distance, staying faithful to each other across the miles.

However his friends, smart-alack co-worker Box (Jason Sudeikis) and sad sack roommate Dan (Charlie Day), with a penchant for sitting on the john with the door wide open, and Erin’s protective sister (Christina Applegate) do everything they can to undermine the relationship, while the couple – whose onscreen chemistry is, sorry to say, pretty much nil – hang tough.

What keeps them going is the hope they’ll eventually be together, but when Erin gets a job offer from the San Francisco Chronicle, their plans threaten to derail.

What truly sabotages the film is the leaden dialogue, with its unremitting sophomoric vulgarity. “We’re not afraid to…hear F-bombs,” Day declares proudly in the press notes. It’s distressing to see Barrymore saddled with a drunk scene in a bar, and yelling at a burly bully “Suck my d--k, bitch,” while being unceremoniously bundled off the premises.

Throughout, Geoff LaTulippe's script runs the gamut from soppy sentiment to the crudest of language. The film’s nadir finds Erin and Garrett engaging in split screen bi-coastal phone sex, a far cry from Doris Day and Rock Hudson’s truly witty bathtub repartee in “Pillow Talk” with a similar split screen presentation. The scene is even more offensive than Applegate’s character catching the couple (including a bare-assed Long) having sex on her dining room table.

Like Barrymore, Long is a basically likable presence, and certainly Sudeikis, Day, and Applegate are pros, but they’re fighting a losing battle with the material, which continually undermines what I presume is meant to be, at heart, a sweet romance.

In fact, wit is the crucial element that’s entirely absent here. In the press notes, the producers brag like naughty children about the film’s subversive humor and the freedom for the characters to “talk the way that people really talk.” No one I know!

The proceedings are unremarkably directed by documentary maker Nanette Burstein.

(The movie is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity.) Print this post


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