Going the Distance goes for the R-rating
Drew Barrymore has done many rom-coms over the years, some good, some not so good. She’s always the girl who falls for a great guy, then loses him, then gets him back in the end as a pop song plays and the two share a kiss. Usually, the comedic value of these various films, from The Wedding Singer to Never Been Kissed to 50 First Dates, depends on the leading man trying to ride the relationship rapids with her.
Barrymore’s new film, Going the Distance, isn’t very different. She plays Erin, an aspiring journalist who’s scraping by in New York and working as the oldest unpaid intern at the New York Sentinel. On a night out with her girlfriends, she bonds with mid-level music label dude Garrett (Justin Long) over a game of Centipede and the two start dating. But alas, their relationship hits some major bumps when she gets a job offer in San Francisco and they have to try a long distance relationship. See, that’s why it’s called Going the Distance, get it?
At first glance, this seems like every other rom-com ever made: a story about two cute people who fall in love, break up, then realize they’re still in love and get back together. Thankfully, it’s a lot better than the typical chick flick.
Barrymore and Long share a great chemistry, most likely because they actually are (or were, depending on their off-and-on status) a real-life couple. They really seem to get each other and their reactions are so natural that it makes the bond between Erin and Garrett much more believable. It doesn’t seem like they were set up by a casting director, but that they really are two people who could talk about old school arcade games and make an awkward attempt at phone sex. Long is truly a funny guy and Barrymore manages to be more than the sweet free spirit she normally plays because she’s able to bounce off his performance.
Still, a leading couple with great chemistry can only take you so far. In The Wedding Singer, Barrymore and Adam Sandler kick things off, but the supporting cast, like Allen Covert and Alexis Arquette, are what elevates the movie from typical rom-com to quotable comedy.
Here, the supporting cast is the element that pushes it over that edge as well. Christina Applegate, playing Erin’s high-strung sister, Corrine, is a great counterbalance to Barrymore’s chilled-out vibe. Corrine is a stressed out mother whose marriage seems a bit tense and who dishes out advice to her sister from this less than optimistic perspective. Her verbal and somewhat creepy sexual exchanges with her husband Phil (comedian Jim Gaffigan) are a funny contrast to Erin and Garrett’s relationship, like a glimpse into a future they don’t want.
I’ll admit, the reason I saw the film in the first place was Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Just like Danny McBride or Zach Galifianakis, Day and Jason Sudeikis add that essential comedy seasoning that completes the recipe. As Garrett’s two best friends, they shine in this R-rated atmosphere and dish out hilarious advice to the frustrated Romeo.
That R-rating is what really allows the cast to shine. In my opinion, nothing is worse than watching a PG-13 film try to be edgy without involving any cussing or “mature themes” in the script. From Erin’s curse-filled tirade to Corrine’s discussion about dry humping, this movie embraces filthy freedom of a grown up rating and ups the ante for humor. Going the Distance has the great cast and formulaic comedy of Date Night, but it also has the ability to break out of that formula with hilarious lines that would normally be too risqué for a romantic comedy.
If you’re like me and you thought this would be another generic rom-com like Jennifer Aniston’s latest flop, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.