Massawyrm loves the down to earth realism of GOING THE DISTANCE
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
At first glance, GOING THE DISTANCE appears to be a traditional, goofball Drew Barrymore romantic comedy with all of the traditional trimmings. At this point in her career, I don’t think there is a comedian left - short of Saint Patton himself - that hasn’t had their chance at hooking up with Drew on film, so seeing it happen with Justin Long seems like a no brainer. But much like THE BREAK-UP and 500 DAYS OF SUMMER before it, it aspires to be something slightly more than your run of the mill comedy, reaching deeper into the realm of the real to mine some genuine comedic gems. This is a film that doesn’t use its set-up to generate comedy, but rather uses comedy to dull the pain of its all too real set-up.
The film is entirely about the very real struggles and strains of a long distance relationship. My wife and I (who watched the film together) found ourselves reminded of the year we spent apart early in our relationship – and it nailed it at every turn. The conversation after the film stretched from how we coped differently than Long and Barrymore to how we coped EXACTLY like the separated lovers. In fact, if this film has any problems connecting with an audience at all, it will be to those who just don’t get the emotional punch of what’s happening and instead are looking for more zany comedy than this film has to offer.
Director Nanette Burstein, who up until now exclusively made documentaries (THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE and AMERICAN TEEN), gives the entire film a very real sense of authenticity. When Long and Barrymore fall in love, there is no questioning why – unlike most rom-coms it has nothing to do with the two simply being the best looking people in the film, but rather with genuine chemistry. It’s not just a few lines of dialog and a successful meet-cute – it is that both characters think and act alike. They have tremendous amounts in common. As characters, they are truly perfect for one another. So when they are separated, you understand entirely why these two need to stay together and overcome the hardships of long distance.
Most interesting about the film was how much it played up the uncertainty of things. In most rom-coms, gainfully employed protagonists are always very secure in their jobs – they’re not just good at their jobs, they’re often the very best at their jobs. This success often leads them to be workaholics, explaining their aptitude at chasing off the opposite sex. If that’s not the case, then the work environment simply serves as a backdrop for friendly banter about the characters romantic life (or lack thereof). Instead, GOING THE DISTANCE juggles the uncertainty of a romantic relationship with the uncertainty of employment. While Justin Long has a job that he hates, he keeps it because he loves living in New York and working for a record label. Barrymore has an intern gig and wants nothing more than to get a permanent position as a journalist for her prestigious paper, but that’s not even close to a sure thing in this environment. When chances are offered on both fronts, the characters are forced into the very real dilemma of sacrificing one maybe for another.
But when the film isn’t busy tackling the serious subtleties of the long distance love affair, it gets right to being funny as all hell. This isn’t a film about stupid people getting into outlandish situations – it’s about above average people getting into ridiculous everyday situations. The banter is quick and witty, peppered with astute observations on the silliness of the human condition, while occasionally going wild with Galifianakis-esque levels of absurdist behavior. There are plenty of subtle callbacks, many of which will fly right over the heads of oblivious viewers but will hit its target audience square in the chest.
Make no mistake, this is not a sugar-coated rom-com; it is something of a bitter pill served with a spoonful of sugar. Every complaint about this film is likely to center upon that. It is a well-made wine in a field full of soda pop, but when an audience is hoping for a Pepsi, they’re apt to be disappointed with a Coppola Chardonnay. While there are plenty of popcorn moments to be had, the soul of the film is a tad darker than the usual audiences of these films are gunning for – while the audience that should see it might just write it off as mainstream pap.
I enjoyed this film quite a bit. It’s smart humor and careful attention to the intricacies of the relationship pay off in an incredibly satisfying way. If you’re the type of person who enjoys an off-kilter rom-com that plays outside the usual conventions, than this is a film you should certainly check out; I think you’ll find it well worth your time.
Until next time friends,
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Aug. 27, 2010, 10:38 a.m. CST
I love thoughtful rom/coms.
Aug. 27, 2010, 10:42 a.m. CST
Nice shoutout Massa. I will check this one out.
Aug. 27, 2010, 10:52 a.m. CST
Looking forward to seeing more of Charlie on the big screen.
Aug. 27, 2010, 10:59 a.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
She's got some chops and deserves better. And I'm sick of Barrymore.
Aug. 27, 2010, 11:23 a.m. CST
by Saint Andeol
I'm with you. I've watched this trailer a couple times just to see his parts. Not gonna lie, at first I thought Justin Long called him "Dad", and i thought, "Why is Charlie Day playing his dad? Is it some weird thing where he adopted a guy 3 years younger than him?
Aug. 27, 2010, 11:30 a.m. CST
It recent years, he always seems to be the best thing in whatever movie he's in (including Zack & Miri), so I'm willing to give this a fair shake. He's best at funny, but he's usually on the mark with drama too. For this reason, I always thought he'd make an interesting Eddie Dean if someone ever tries to make King's DARK TOWER.
Aug. 27, 2010, 11:40 a.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
. . . to picturing Long as Eddie Dean. Sam Rockwell all the way! Finally, a talk-back tangent I'm down with.
Aug. 27, 2010, 11:41 a.m. CST
Brother Massawyrm. No bullshit but you're becoming my favorite reviewer in this site. Im not gonna watch the movie at all but you show your range when it comes to different movies. Great job and keep it up!!
Aug. 27, 2010, 11:43 a.m. CST
Aug. 27, 2010, 11:45 a.m. CST
I read other reviews on the site, but Massa's tend to be the only ones I actually take into consideration when deciding whether to go see a flick. On another note, I never thought of Justin Long as Eddie Dean, but I think I could see it now. Sam Rockwell is too old.
Aug. 27, 2010, 12:03 p.m. CST
by Tigger Tales
Aug. 27, 2010, 12:04 p.m. CST
I admit this does look waaay better than the average romantic comedy, but I gotta check this out for my man Charlie Day, who plays Charlie Kelly on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dude is fucking hilarious and I am happy he's in a seemingly pretty good film. I hope he's laying groundwork on his way to stardom. Plus, the great Jim Gaffigan is another big draw. Looking forward to this.
Aug. 27, 2010, 12:10 p.m. CST
...the sitcom-style setups kind of took me out of it. <br><br>Spoiler alert?<br><br>The spray tan debacle is tired. Friends did it. Charlie Day's Chaplin/Hitler gimmick was hacky. <br><br>Gaffigan had a few great lines. "Boston Market, they just don't build those anywhere." <br><br>This seemed like the most genuine role Barrymore has had in recent memory. Long is par for the course, but less annoying. <br><br>Charlie Day was a few notches more stable that Charlie Kelly. Sunny fans should get a kick out of his limited antics.<br><br>A very tolerable rom-com that's more Apatow style than Reiner or Marshall.
Aug. 27, 2010, 12:10 p.m. CST
Nice Marmot, I'm a HUGE Rockwell fan, but @loc420 is right, he's way too old for Eddie (who is described as being in his mid twenties). I offered up Long, but if I were casting DT today, my first choices would actually be James Franco for Eddie, Daniel Day Lewis for Roland, Zoe Saldana for Susannah and Hugo Weaving for Flagg/Marten.
Aug. 27, 2010, 12:12 p.m. CST
im sure it is good but the reasons for it bein good is meh to me... couldve been more spoilery
Aug. 27, 2010, 1:19 p.m. CST
But I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Aug. 27, 2010, 1:41 p.m. CST
till the season premiere of Sunny...I read that Charlie Day is costarring in next summers Horrible Bosses (I think its called), with Jennifer Aniston. Hope its not another usual train wreck.
Aug. 27, 2010, 2:24 p.m. CST
Another shit week for movies.
Aug. 27, 2010, 2:41 p.m. CST
Aug. 27, 2010, 2:51 p.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
By your logic, James Franco is too old as well.
Aug. 27, 2010, 3:29 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
Aug. 27, 2010, 7:54 p.m. CST
...and sometimes Jason Sudeikis.
Aug. 27, 2010, 10:13 p.m. CST
by Massawyrm 1
Honestly? I think I've said everything I have to say about these hapless nitwits in my DISASTER MOVIE review. I recommend looking it up and I think you'll see why I didn't bother.
Aug. 28, 2010, 8:38 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
These fuckwits deserve every kick to the ribs they can get.
Aug. 29, 2010, 10:10 a.m. CST
Casting is all about being able to PASS for a certain age, hence scrawny Ralph Macchio still being able to play teens while in his 30s. An actor doesn't have to be the same age as his character, just look like it. As actors go, I like Rockwell's work more than Franco's but Rockwell is a 42 yr-old man who could pass for mid-30's at youngest, while Franco is a 32 yr-old who could pass for mid-to-late 20s.
Aug. 29, 2010, 4:19 p.m. CST
Drew Barrymore is a mere 3 years older than this Justin Long guy. Wow. He still looks like he's in his teens.
Aug. 30, 2010, 2:15 p.m. CST
But now I might see it (on DVD) thanks to that nice review. Agreed that Drew Barrymore is just so unlikeable, Christina Applegate as the lead might have made me wanna see this in the theater...
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