Published On: Mon, Sep 6th, 2010

‘Going the Distance’ film review by MovieMikes

By: Mike Smith

There are many things men need to learn about women. Garrett (Long) is about to learn a big one. Here’s a hint: when you ask your lady friend what she wants for her birthday and she replies “nothing”…she’s lying!

Having learned this lesson the hard way, Garrett joins his friends Box (Jason Sudeikis) and Dan (Charlie Day) for a beer at the local watering hole. From across the bar he catches the eye of Erin (Barrymore). One thing leads to another and the pair end up back at Garrett’s place. Garrett finds out that Erin, who is interning at a New York City newspaper, will be returning to San Francisco in six weeks. That being said the two decide to just “hang out” and not pursue anything serious. But avoiding love is not that easy.

Cleverly written and smartly directed, “Going the Distance” earns much of its credibility from the natural chemistry between long time on again/off again couple Barrymore and Long. As their relationship grows on screen the familiarity with which they seem to have with each other comes across on screen. As the initial six weeks pass and there time apart grows, you can feel the genuine affection these to have for each other.

Barrymore has often been cast in romantic roles that were probably turned down by Cameron Diaz…not strong characters. They haven’t allowed her to use her natural sense of humor, which is best evident in the “Charlie’s Angels” films and “500 First Dates,” to her full potential. Here she gives her best on screen performance since “500 First Dates.” Let me modify that previous sentence by adding the word “comedic.” She was brilliant in her Emmy Award nominated and Golden Globe Award winning dramatic role in the television movie “Grey Gardens.” Long is equally funny as a record executive who longs to find the next “big” independent group only to find himself promoting a Jonas Brothers-type group. He also does a very impressive vocal impersonation of Morgan Freeman. Both are well supported by a funny group of performers, highlighted by the scene stealing Day, who is probably best known as a co-star and writer for the television series “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Spookily resembling comedian Dana Carvey, albeit in a beard, Days’ performance is truly funny. Sudeikis is equally fun to watch, as is Applegate, who plays Erin’s sister, a mother who disciplines her daughter by screaming “STATUE!” when she misbehaves, causing the little girl to freeze in her place.

The script, by Geoff LaTulippe, really shines the light on the ups and downs of a long distance relationship. I’ve had them in the past and I can honestly say it’s not just happy phone calls and great it’s-been-so-long-since-I’ve-seen-you sex. It’s trying to find the time to make those phone calls and wondering why they aren’t answering the phone. And yes, the things men need to learn about women are even more important.

Incidentally, I’ll be celebrating my 50th birthday in a couple of weeks. Please, don’t get me anything.

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long and Christina Applegate
Directed by: Nanette Burstein
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 49 mins
New Line Cinema

MOVIE MIKES SCORE: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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