Saturday, September 4, 2010

Going the Distance

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Frustrated Lovebirds Pine from Afar in Bicoastal Romantic Comedy

Among the fundamental elements critical to the enjoyment of a romantic comedy are an engaging plot, authentic chemistry between a couple of likable characters, and enough laughs-per-minute to make you forget that it’s all leading to a predictable “happily ever after” resolution. There’s none of the above in Going the Distance, a mirthless indulgence in narcissism which fails to deliver any of these basics of the genre.
The movie marks the first foray into drama by director Nanette Burstein whose remarkable directorial debut, On the Ropes, landed her an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary category back in 2000. Unfortunately, this insipid offering, co-starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, is exactly the opposite of exceptional.
The story revolves around the long-distance relationship of the equally-insufferable Erin (Barrymore), a Stanford grad student majoring in journalism, and Garrett (Long), a jaded, NYC talent scout disenchanted with his record company which only allows him to sign mediocre bands with commercial potential. They meet serendipitously at a trendy singles bar while she’s interning at a prestigious newspaper in Manhattan, and their mutual attraction leads to a passionate fling that remains inflamed for the duration of the summer.
However, despite a parting exchange of promises at the airport to remain faithful to each other, there’s trouble in paradise soon after Erin returns to California to complete her degree. The phone sex just doesn’t do it after awhile, nor can they afford to take turns flying across country every weekend. Worse, Garrett becomes irrationally jealous of her hunky, Platonic pal (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), while she worries about what he might be up to hanging out with his bawdy bachelor buddies (Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day).
Still, the most frustrating conundrum facing the lovebirds is whether one will put the other’s needs first in order to be able live in the same city. For, career-oriented Erin will only move back to the Big Apple if she lands a full-time gig there, but not merely for Garrett. And he isn’t inclined to quit his job just to be with her either. While such selfish attitudes might reflect the practical reality of mating habits in the 21st Century, these two behave like such obnoxious jerks that they render themselves totally unsympathetic.
The only reason you root for a reunion at the end of this unromantic romp is because these two jerks really deserve each other.

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, profanity, crude humor, drug use and brief nudity.
Running time: 97 Minutes
Studio: New Line Cinema

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