Guest Review – Going The Distance

I do love it when we get to post a review without doing any of the hard work like actually writing the damn thing!

Fresh from her amazing review of Sex and The City 2 and a cameo in the highlights reel from our birthday extravaganza, Katie Dimaline (my future Mrs Wakeman) is here with her brief thoughts on Going The Distance, the new romantic comedy currently doing the rounds in cinemas around the UK.  The film stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as two 30-something-successful-and-attractive types who meet each other at the wrong time in one another’s lives and find their relationship stretched across the country as one lives in New York and the other San Fransisco. Will love find a way? Can long distance relationships work? Is this movie even worth a hoot? Find out all this and more in the following 600 or so words…

When I sat down for Going The Distance I was expecting it to be what has become the standard for Rom-Com’s these days in my view- a film that I would enjoy but that overall would be a bit insipid and far too conventional! There have been a few notable exceptions for me over the last few years; 500 Days of Summer; Knocked Up; anything with Paul Rudd in it. And it gives me great pleasure to report that with Going The Distance I was pleasantly surprised! The film is full of real warmth and genuine affection, inspired no doubt by the real life chemistry between Barrymore and Long. Some scenes even felt a bit like a reality show more that a movie [Chris here- some of the outdoor scenes in the trailer had a very low-fi, documentary feel to them so I’m not surprised by this comment] which I thought was excellent as I do love feeling like a fly on the wall!

As a survivor of a long distance relationship I was on the same page as the characters from the beginning. The endless phone calls, the tiresome fights over nothing and especially the jealousy! I thought it was a good call of the writer to keep both sides monogamous- it can and does happen [that’s what she thinks!]! I think it would have cheapened the film if they had let Long go home with his work colleague. Instead they made the decision to let her go home with the crazy friend and that was genius! Again this decision underlined the sympathetic way the film was written; it rang true for the many couples who have dated long distance and made it last.

Much like in 500 Days of Summer, with its super performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I thought Justin Long played a blinder in Going The Distance. His combination of aloofness and chivalry is heartwarming and great to watch. The film is really all about Long’s journey to finding his true self and finding love along the way. The problem however is that audience’s may not go into it expecting that.

Chris tells me that The Switch is really a story about  Jason Bateman’s character however Jennifer Anniston is front and centre on the poster campaign. Going the Distance is much the same; Drew Barrymore is the star draw of this film in the celebrity stakes, however in story telling terms our hero is Justin Long. I can appreciate that the bigger name might bring in more box office, but talented performers like Long and Bateman are being undone promotionally when their performances deserve more credit and fame!

As far as the actual film is concerned Long’s journey is conveyed well; you get that this is his story. We don’t interact with Barrymore’s friends and Long’s two male side kicks are truly funny- a classic line being “this is not a moustache, this is a time machine”. Plenty of scenes are stolen too by Christina Applegate as Barrymore’s sister. Funny at the worst of times, Applegate is given plenty of scene stealing material here and makes full use of her brief screen time- including a masterful way of controlling her misbehaving daughter!

Finally, this film was not without its moments that had me feeling exasperated and shouting at the screen and at times it got really stupid. For example we see Long searching for jobs in San Francisco, but when Barrymore gets a job offer there he flips out and decides he wants their life to be in New York…WTF? This was a blundering attempt to throw some drama into an otherwise mellow film and a real misstep in what is otherwise a fairly enjoyable night out at the movies.

And it had a happy ending!

Cheers Katie! Another belter. I love the fact that there is no attempt made to remember character names- why don’t we do that more often Chris M?


2 Responses to Guest Review – Going The Distance

  1. castalavista says:

    I concur that we should definitely get people to do this for us more often – thanks Katie!

    I agree with you completely on this one – it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, although I did have two major gripes;

    1. You’re bang on right about this first one Katie – the element of the onus being on her to move to NY was poorly handled and I think the reason for this is that although this is certainly Long’s story, the movie wants to try and give each character equal(ish) screentime. What it should have done instead is made it MORE about Long and involved some kind of emotional/personal journey for him in realising that if he wanted that relationship to work, he couldn’t just sit back and let her do all the work. It’s established fairly easily that he has no real reason to stay in NY, and it seems to me they missed a real opportunity to add a personal development hook to proceedings, rather than (as you very rightly say) “a blundering attempt to throw some drama [in].” They should either have done it or not – but leaving it halfway between felt crappy.

    2. For anyone who’s seen It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and was excited by the fact that Charlie Day was in this movie, you shouldn’t be – he plays basically the exact same character, which felt like a bit of a waste to me. I would’ve liked to have seen him do something a little different.

    The friend I watched it with turned to me as we walked out and said “Well, I’ll probably never think of that film again.” Forgettable? Maybe, but the fact alone that neither main character is a complete knob makes this film very watchable. Check it out. Maybe.


  2. Japan Cinema says:

    Charlie Day is in it? Sold. Boom.

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