Now, I've gotta tell you straight up: I love romantic comedies. Give me a good chick flick with pans of a big-city skyline and a heroine with a journalism gig and I'm good to go for an hour and a half. What makes those 90 minutes really pop, though, is the details, and Going the Distance has them: Feel-good indie-rock soundtrack? Check. Delicious wardrobe and interior design? Check. Funny supporting roles? You got it. By the time our protagonists Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) fall in love and we're watching them eat ice cream, play in the park and wander around brownstone Brooklyn wearing plaid shirts with the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" playing in the background, I'm sold.
And I'm not even sickened by that relationship; Barrymore and Long have convincing chemistry and share a few moments that are genuinely funny. But Erin has to move to San Francisco to finish her grad degree while Justin stays in New York to work. Watching two people decide whether or not their long-distance relationship is going to work is just about as exciting as it sounds. The film almost knows that, though, and in the beginning seems to make fun of itself while Erin and Garrett tell each other the most mundane details of their lives on the phone and via text message.
After that, however, the movie and the relationship devolve into parallel states of shittiness as Erin and Justin fight over utterly predictable problems: Will she cheat? Who will move to which city? How do you make phone sex sexy, anyway? The movie suffers from the opposite problem of most in its genre—it's too realistic. By the end, we're just as sick of their sexual frustration and petty fights as they are. This just serves to make the parts where the film becomes silly all the more unbearable—we even have to watch a repeat of that embarrassing Friends episode where Ross gets a bad fake tan. Going the Distance in fact is like a relationship teetering on the brink of failure—it's the right combination of ingredients, but face it with a challenge and it just might not be built to last. At least not longer than an hour and a half. R.
Opens Friday at Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Cinema 99, Cinetopia, City Center, Cornelius, Evergreen, Hilltop, Lloyd Center, Oak Grove, Pioneer Place, Sandy, Sherwood, Tigard and Wilsonville.