Going the Distance
This kind of film all boils down to charm, and both Long and Barrymore do an excellent job of playing people it’s easy to actually like.
Drew Barrymore is the anti-Katherine Heigl. Actually, Heigl is the anti-Barrymore, (Drew got here first) but the point stands: while Heigl plays Hollywood’s girly girls – ditzy, self-absorbed, kinda humourless, basically real-life barbie dolls – Barrymore gets to be the girl the guys want to hang out with.
So it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise that Going the Distance avoids the usual female-friendly rom-com gags about vibrators and acting like a control freak, and instead piles on the Top Gun references and shots of the cast drinking beer on the toilet with the door open. But before we can get to the good stuff like seeing Barrymore hitting the bong like an expert (which, considering her colourful past, she may very well be), first there’s a bit of rom-com business to take care of.
Garrett (Justin Long) is an A&R guy for a music label who seems to have trouble fully committing to a relationship. Erin (Barrymore) is a 31 year old intern at a New York newspaper with only a few weeks to go before she heads back to San Francisco. So after a drunken one-night stand they figure they might as well hang out together for a while – it’s not like this relationship can ever go anywhere, right?
So far, so predictable. And to be honest, new comedy ground isn’t really broken once Erin heads home and they do decide to give a long distance relationship a go either, but this kind of film all boils down to charm, and both Long and Barrymore do an excellent job of playing people it’s easy to actually like. Which isn’t something anyone could say about the leads in The Ugly Truth.
Another big plus is a comedy-heavy supporting cast, including Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Jason Sudeikis (Floyd on 30 Rock) as Garrett’s scuzzy mates Dan and Box, and Christina Applegate as Erin’s neat-freak older sister Corinne. Supporting casts rarely break a film, but there are plenty of moments here – like Corinne’s appalling discovery of Garrett and Erin having sex on her dining room table and her later obsession with cleaning it, which wouldn’t have worked half as well without Applegate’s mix of disgust and restraint – where they make a scene just that little bit funnier.
As is usually the way with rom-coms, someone has to start acting like a tool towards the end so we can have a happy ending when they finally stop acting like a tool, but by then this has built up enough momentum to get it over the finish line without losing too much goodwill.
Actually, the brilliant moment where Barrymore says she’s cool with having Dan (who can hear what’s going on in Garrett’s room) “DJ his hook-up” with tracks from Top Gun is enough to get this over the line — and it comes barely ten minutes in.