Going The Distance
Matinee with Snacks
Real-life on-again-off-again couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long have undeniable chemistry in this film. The two are so winsome, yet comfortably-familiar but still accessibly-normal as people that their whole relationship feels as fated and perfect as new loves always do. What’s great about this movie is that instead of taking 90 minutes for two people to figure out they should be together, our leads pretty much know it from the start. The journey is the harder, less glamorous work of overcoming real obstacles to their happiness. It’s a really mature love story with plenty of hilarious sex jokes and wit to make it a rollicking ride and make you feel young (again).
Director Nanette Burstein comes from the world of documentaries, and wanted the scenes to feel like real dialogue, not scripted and perfect. First-time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe crafted a movie that is at once Golden Age of Hollywood romantic yet uniquely modern in terms of characters and issues. Mission definitely accomplished. The easy, natural chemistry of our leads extends to their closest confidantes (Jason Sudekis and Charlie Day as his every-dude pals, and Christina Applegate, the sister who supplies doses of realism and hilarity in equal measure). These talented comedians are also solid actors who ground our leads during flights of idealism and support our leads during the pits of frustration.
A layer of the story that gives this film some extra oomph is that Long and Barrymore also have vocations in industries that have been limping of late — he’s a record-industry guy and she wants to work in newspapers. While their quaint jobs add to the status-quo Generation X sensibility of their meeting (and the soundtrack), they also serve to give our heroes some depth. They aren’t just in jobs they can drop to pursue romantic love — they are in fields they already deeply love, that ignite their passion, regardless of the odds or the paycheck. It’s hard enough to get or keep the regular dime-a-dozen type jobs these days, but for these rarified interests, it’s even a bigger challenge, with higher stakes when it comes to deciding how to end the pain of being long distance. Love calls on our heroes to make huge sacrifices in some arena, and it adds a lot of depth to an already lovely film. So too with the sort of easy felicity these two share — we, and they, recognize its rarity and beauty, but so much can get in the way.
While the film sounds really serious, and at times can be absolutely heart-wrenching, it never stops warming the cockles, nor does it lose its hilarity. I’m totally going to buy the DVD but you should at least see it in the theatres while you can.
MPAA Rating R-sexual content, language, brief nudity, drug use
Release date 9/3/10
Time in minutes 102
Director Nanette Burstein
Studio New Line Cinema