Directed by: Nanette Burstein
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis
Successfully maintaining a long-distance relationship with a significant other is difficult. Having just uttered one of the biggest understatements in the history of love itself, I can assure you I’ve become quite educated on the subject through my own personal experience and that of my closest friends. Given the topic’s almost overwhelming prevalence amongst the general public, it’s a shame that no one’s ever really attempted to translate their personal take on the issue to the big screen until now. Nanette Burstein’s refreshingly honest and surprisingly hilarious Going the Distance isn’t precisely what the doctor ordered, but its sheer boldness in treading where few others have is more than enough to elevate it well above those films I’ve often referred to as uninspired cinematic atrocities.
Call me old-fashioned, but I do have a soft spot for an in-your-face, sometimes crass sense of humor, and Going the Distance possesses just that. Off-putting as it may be, a successful balance actually does exist between the film’s overall immaturity and the sensitivity it exhibits towards the subject at hand. The balance in question though does buckle slightly in the wake of Burstein’s almost amateurish direction, bringing forth a slight incongruity within the film’s pacing as Erin and Garrett begin to encounter all the textbook tragedies that go hand-in-hand with their burgeoning relationship. A shaky script is also partially to blame for its minor missteps, what with the film being unsure of just how to navigate up to and away from said courtship with any semblance of ease, but once things begin to pick up in between, Going the Distance really begins to shine.
A genuine air authenticity remains prominent throughout the film’s more honest and subsequently more appealing sequences, deftly covering the topics of love, lust, jealousy and temptation in the wake Erin and Garrett’s decision to remain exclusive to one another. Carrying with it the almost unbearable feelings of longing and frustration that further coincide with the characters’ predicament, Going the Distance‘s primary focus ends up being a great deal more engrossing than anything else it has to offer. The pivotal, more favorable aspects of the narrative (i.e. surprise visits, gushing confessions of love and so forth) and even those deemed the opposite will manage to ring exceptionally true to those who’ve unfortunately succumbed to similar hardships, proving that even a film of modest stature doesn’t need to be perfect to resonate with its intended audience.
Casting choices, if you haven’t already noticed, can always serve as the proverbial game-changer for me when it comes to how I feel about a particular piece of cinema. Barrymore and Long, oddly enough, display some pretty fantastic chemistry, and seeing how comfortable they are with one another onscreen gives Going the Distance another boost in the realm of emotional honesty and believability. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are simply hilarious, as are Applegate and Gaffigan as Erin’s sister Corinne and brother-in-law Paul. Once again, a particularly crass yet competent sense of humor may or may not have its intended effect on viewers, but as for myself, the jokes were more often than not pitch perfect despite a propensity towards ridiculousness.
Going the Distance, all in all, left me very pleasantly surprised. Despite a minor unevenness of tone in relation to some questionable pacing, the film really does manage to successfully present a refreshing look at modern relationships and the perils that coincide with those dreaded long-distance situations. Its emotional honesty and ability to resonate with viewers via said topic is more than enough to compensate for the flaws I’ve outlined, but aside from that, those who are merely looking for the next raucous comedic romp will assuredly be disappointed.