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Going The Distance

It’s hard to go truly wrong with the romantic comedy genre—they’re simple and inexpensive films to make, and the audience for them is not too hard to please. Yet somehow Going the Distance manages to come up short.

In its favor it has Drew Barrymore, who has a good track record with this kind of thing, and a promising premise: How do you sustain love when you have to live 3,000 miles apart?. (I am writing this from a hotel room in Montreal, where I am attending the film festival, and I miss my wife, so I’m primed to be affected by this.)

But this script is meant for a younger actress. Barrymore is 36, playing 31, and even that’s pushing it for a character entering the job market after her last year of school. It only makes matters worse that her co-star is Justin Long, who looks a good 10 years younger than her. (The bangs don’t help.) And it’s not the kind of story where you can get away with that: The problems of 20-somethings separated are different from those of 30-somethings separated.

The script seems to have been written in the early 1990s, judging from the outdated references (Marky Mark, The Beastie Boys) and arcane job market (record labels, newspapers). Worst of all, the dialogue seems to have been written after one too many viewings of Clerks: The movie is filled with excessively raunchy talk that sounds like it was written by a horny 14-year-old. Some of it comes from the leads (Long’s greeting to Barrymore on a trip to California is a particular embarrassment), but much of it is from a glut of irritating supporting characters who take up way too much of the movie’s length.

At the same time, the movie never manages to capture the pains and longings of separated lovers. We understand their plight, but never feel their loss. Teenage boys who stumble into this movie by accident may enjoy it, but the core audience for romantic comedies is likely to go somewhere else.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Going The Distance

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