Going the Distance: Adventures in Adequacy
Sometimes in the course of human events, every once in a very short while, a movie comes along that is so completely, overwhelmingly okay that you just have to drop anything unimportant and write a middling review of it when you feel like it, or not. A movie where moderately likable characters exchange words, which become sentences, which become conversations, which have something to do with the thing (the "plot," if you will) that said characters are talking about using words. And sentences! Words and sentences like "you" and "me" and "New York" and "relationship" and "dry hump" and "my favorite movie is Top Gun." Going the Distance isn't just one of those movies—it is the one of those movies that I guess I will write about. Now.
Garrett (Justin Long, strangely hot froglike manchild) is a totally cool and rockin' dude who works for a New York record label. Erin (Drew Barrymore, adorably overgrown Reese's Pieces shill) is a "31-year-old" aspiring journalist with moxie. When these two perfectly nice characters meet, instant humping occurs (also, love)! Hitch in the plan: Erin lives in San Francisco. The pair attempts a long-distance relationship. A movie ensues.
Director Nanette Burstein takes an admirably unglossified approach to her characters—they curse freely and believably, smoke marijuana out of large bongs without making a whole thing out of it, and crack the kind of dumb, silly, dirty jokes that real couples aren't too embarrassed to share. (Garrett, surprising Erin with a visit while she's waiting tables: "I've got a tip for you." Erin, overjoyed: "The tip of your penis?") The supporting cast keeps things consistently medium-funny—particularly, of course, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day (THE MAN IS A TREASURE), as Garrett's dude-bro sidekicks.
If Going the Distance were a senior Republican senator from the state of Texas, it would be Just Okay Bailey Hutchison. If it were a character in H. Rider Haggard's 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines, it would be Allan Adequatermain. If it were a state in southwestern Germany, it would be Really Not That Baden- Württemberg. If it were a tragic space shuttle disintegration, it would be the I Ain't Mad Atchallenger Disaster. If it played the male romantic lead in the classic 1989 comedy Troop Beverly Hills, it would be Mediocraig T. Nelson. If its penis had spent time up inside Angelina Jolie, it would be Acceptabilly Bob Thornton.
What I'm trying to say is that Going the Distance makes me wish I had food poisoning, or something comparable but with less vomiting, so that I could stay home sick and watch it on TV. It is not a classic, but it is not terrible. It is fine. It will do.