“Going the Distance” is the new romantic comedy about a Mac and a PC who-; no wait, no it's not (but wouldn't it be cool if it was? I'd go see that). It's actually about two thirty-somethings who have to cope with the strains and stresses of a cross-country relationship.
Garret (Justin Long: probably best known from the “I'm a Mac” ad campaign) meets Erin (Drew Barrymore: “Music and Lyrics”) one night while out at the bar. He's just been dumped by his latest girlfriend essentially for being a douchebag, she's blowing off steam because her internship at The New York Sentinel newspaper is not going well (and yes, there is a brief explanation as to why someone in her thirties is still an intern). After some initial rockiness, the pair hit it off.
A one night stand becomes a friendship. A friendship becomes something more, but before that can really become a relationship Erin's internship ends, and she must return to San Francisco to finish her schooling. In spite of their better judgment, the pair decide to give a long distance relationship a go.
The plot is the standard boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back only to lose her again, and then must do something big to win her back one final time variety of plot. You're not going to find anything especially new or fresh here, but that doesn't mean you won't be amused. Strangely though, not many of the laughs come from Long or Barrymore (although for some reason Drew Barrymore cursing and suggesting a large biker perform an anatomically impossible act on her is enough to make me laugh), but from the supporting cast.
The friends and family of Garret and Erin are easily the best parts of this movie. In New York, Garret has his roommate, Dan (Charlie Day: “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), who likes to listen to his roommate's romantic sessions through the wall, and his co-worker, Box (Jason Sudeikis: “30 Rock”) who is growing an 80's mustache to attract older women. Erin in San Francisco has her friend, Harper (Sarah Burns: “I Love You, Man”) her germaphobic sister, Corinne (Christina Applegate: “Married... With Children”), and her sister's husband, Phil (Jim Gaffigan: “17 Again”). Ultimately it is Day, Sudeikis, and Applegate who garner the majority of the films laughs, if not the biggest laugh (all I'm going to say about that is “dining room table”) of the whole film.
Justin Long seems like an odd choice for this role. While it is clear that the filmmakers tried to tailor the lead roles for the actors, the story feels like it should have leads who are about five to eight years younger than they are stated to be, there's only so much you can do for someone like Long. He's just not that good of an actor, and it shows in this. His character comes of as a bit of a douche at best, and a downright jerk at worst. I'll be honest here and say that I am not a big fan of Long, so my opinion is slanted by that, but I think that he is one of those actors (like Michael Cera) who can ruin a movie for you if you don't like him.
For most of the film, “Going the Distance” moves at a steady pace, making sure to throw decent amounts of mostly lowbrow humour at you when things start to get a little too heavy, but there are times when it tries to be serious. This movie fails the hardest during these times as Justin Long cannot pull it off convincingly, and towards the end the film starts to feel a little draggy; like it could have had a completely different type of ending about fifteen minutes before the actual conclusion.
I enjoyed this movie, but then I went into it with really low expectations, so unless you are looking for a decent date movie (but maybe not a first date; there is a lot of swearing, sexual references, and Long's bare arse) there is really no reason to recommend seeing this in theaters. The story is pure meh, Justin Long is not a leading man, and the laughs that are there, while plentiful, just do not outweigh the film's flaws. Rent it, or check it out on cable in a few months when it is just another bawdy romantic comedy shuffled in with all of the rest. If you are really that desperate for a new RomCom to see though, then you can see “Going the Distance” when it lands in theaters on September 3rd.