Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day
Directed by: Nannette Burstein (“American Teen”)
Written by: Geoff LaTulippe (debut)
In a typical romantic comedy it’s usually an unwritten rule that a best friend character is given just enough material to steal a scene or two and then spends the rest of his or her time providing sound advice or a shoulder to cry on. But in “Going the Distance” you don’t have to get too far into the film before it becomes evident who is really carrying the rom-com where it needs to go. It is unfortunate Drew Barrymore and Justin Long had to come along and cramp their style.
In “Going the Distance,” Barrymore and Long take a backseat to comedians Charlie Day (TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and Jason Sudeikis (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), who play Dan and Box, the best friends of Garrett (Long), a record label employee living in New York City who falls for Erin (Barrymore), a newspaper intern, six weeks before she’s scheduled to finish up her internship and move back home to San Francisco.
Despite the short amount of time they have to spend together, Garrett and Erin start their cutesy courtship and first-time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe makes sure to squeeze as much out of their clever personalities before they retire to opposite sides of the country. Before Erin departs, however, the two decide they want to try a long-distance relationship.
Alone in their respective cities, the new couple, through formulaic montages and rom-com romance revolving around text messages and Skype, Garrett and Erin journey through the vast emotions one would feel if their significant other was thousands of miles away. There to balance out all of Garrett’s jealously and loneliness are Dan and Box, who inject some much needed humor into all his pouty moments. Meanwhile on the West Coast, Christina Applegate plays Erin’s concerned sister Corinne, a character shamelessly cut from the same cloth as Leslie Mann’s in “Knocked Up.”
But like most wannabe Judd Apatowesque comedies, “Going the Distance” has neither the charm nor enough laughs to drag it from the trenches. Aside from the few secondary characters that brighten up all the lame lovie-dovieness that Garrett and Erin share both from afar and when they have the cash to fly in for a visit, Oscar-nominated documentary director Nannette Burstein (“American Teen”) just can’t make the profanity-laced script mesh well enough with eyelash-fluttering romance.
What’s left are gags about dry humping, pop culture references of “Top Gun,” and a mishap in a tanning salon that set the bar fairly low even for Long’s lack of slapstick-comedy prowess. Barrymore’s still as accessible as ever, but if she’s trying to find some edge in her roles she’ll have to travel farther than this.