“Going the Distance” is an adult-minded romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, who just happen to be a former couple off screen, which could account for their great rapport in the film. Garrett (Long), suffering from a break up earlier that day, meets Erin (Barrymore) in a bar by distracting her from beating her high score on an arcade game. Erin has six weeks left in New York City as a summer intern for a local newspaper, but despite this the two hit it off, date and ultimately fall in love. A journalism major at Stanford, Erin must soon head across the country to her hometown of San Francisco, and reality hits the couple hard. Who expects to fall in love in such a short period of time? So they try to make a very long distance relationship work.
Not unlike other long-distance-relationship stories, “Going the Distance” shows us the trials and tribulations the couple goes through while trying to keep their love alive across thousands of miles: distractions, temptations and time zone differences. Both Erin and Garrett look for jobs in each other’s cities so they can be closer to each other, to no avail. However, Erin’s willingness to sacrifice lifestyle and career quickly becomes obvious, while Garrett doesn’t bend as easily. A junior executive at a record label, Garrett doesn’t even like his job, but expects Erin to give up a once-in-a-lifetime journalism opportunity in San Francisco to live with him in NYC. Erin has tried this before, and doesn’t want to leave her life behind for a guy who doesn’t seem willing to reciprocate.
Erin and Garrett are fun-loving characters, but seem rather dull and mundane in comparison to some of the more interesting supporting cast. Standouts include Erin’s protective, paranoid sister, Corrine (Christina Applegate), who also suffers as a germaphobe. Corrine’s husband, Phil (Jim Gaffigan), tends to show up at the wrong place and time. Humor is also supplied by Garrett’s friends, Dan (Charlie Day) and Box (Jason Sudeikis), who like to set the tone for Erin and Garrett’s hookups by DJing through the bedroom walls.
The film’s style shifts, at times feeling like a hand-held documentary, leaving the camera movements shaky and the picture fuzzy. It is unclear if the few scenes in which this occurs are intentional, and it distracts from the enjoyment of the story.
“Going the Distance” really falls short in how its humor has been targeted: based on the film’s trailers, audiences will probably expect a date-night version of fun, light romantic comedy. Think again. The humor is highly sexually-charged, to the point of being over-the-top and annoying at times. The filmmakers could have reached a much broader audience by toning down some of the more crass, immature high school-level jokes. “Going the Distance” promises sturdy, adult, romantic comedy, but starts to come across as silly and crude as a lost “American Pie” sequel.