GOING THE DISTANCE has taken a new spin on the romantic comedy genre by putting a whole continent between our two love birds. This was a tricky move to pull off because we first have to buy into their relationship and then we have to root for them to find a way to be together. Unfortunately, the best thing about the movie is the original take on a long distance relationship, but it also turned out to be the worst part as their distance prevented the audience from ever really getting attached to them.
Erin (Barrymore) is a struggling, wannabe journalist working an internship in New York when she meets Garrett (Justin Long) after a night out. Although it was supposed to be a onetime thing, they end up falling for each other, which makes things complicated when she has to go back to California to finish up school. The first part of the relationship was the toughest part to pull off as it’s important to make these two as cute and loving as possible so the audience can fall for them. Director Nanette Burstein did a great job with that, but once they separate, it was just too hard to maintain. We then go through the normal process of each character trying to decide what they want and then working to get back together at the end.
For those that have been in a long distance relationship, you know how hard it is and how many challenges come up during the course of the relationship. In GOING THE DISTANCE, they touch on most of them (jealousy, frustration, needing money to travel, etc.), but I wanted them to dive into those things even more. Being on opposite ends of America while trying to work through a relationship has to be incredibly challenging and I never felt like that truly came through in the film. Too much time was spent on their personal problems at work and school and not enough time was spent on their relationship issues. That made it difficult for the audience to really be invested in their relationship and therefore, the ending was less epic than what we’re used to in romantic comedies.
On a positive note, the film was actually pretty funny, thanks in large part to Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, who played the typical best friends that give bad advice. Being a huge fan of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, I’m by association a huge fan of Day and he plays the same part here as he does in his show. But it works and it continues to bring in the laughs. But there are funny moments from Long and Barrymore as well, which makes this film go by quickly and stay pretty enjoyable.
Although it could have been more, I thought GOING THE DISTANCE was a fun romantic comedy that at least tried to do something different. It had some fun characters, sweet moments and plenty of laughs to make a nice Friday night rental.
Video (1080p HD 16×9, 2.4:1): An ok transfer, there were a lot of dark scenes and it appears that the cinematographer wanted to be more artistic than the film required.
Audio (5.1 Dolby Digital): This is fine, there’s not really much to display in the audio arena in many romantic comedies.
Audio Commentary with director Nanette Burstein: This was a fairly mediocre commentary and would have been better if Ms. Burstein wasn’t shoved into the room by herself. She sheds some light on aspects here and there but there are a lot of pauses and she just can’t keep the ball rolling by herself for that long.
How to Have the Perfect Date (7:57): The cast and crew discuss their past dating relationships and the various difficulties and pluses of them. This was a bit fluffy.
A Guide to Long Distance Dating (8:02): I’m sure I would take long distance dating advice from a film where, quite frankly, it didn’t even really work for the characters. Take it for what it’s worth, it’s a short featurette so it’s not a complete waste of your time.
The Cast of Going the Distance: Off the Cuff (4:06): Another little fluff piece where they say they’re really going for comedy instead of reality-that kind of doesn’t go with the previous featurette but whatever.
Deleted Scenes (13:13): These didn’t add anything but were cute to watch, it seems this is where all the improv shots landed.
Music (6:02): A video for “If You Run” as well as a little promo for the GOING THE DISTANCE soundtrack which has some tracks from The Boxer Rebellion (who was featured in the film).