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A surprisingly funny romantic comedy, Going the Distance tells the story of what happens when a new couple is forced to make things work from opposite sides of the country. After spending six weeks together in New York, circumstance forces Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justing Long) to maintain a relationship with her back in San Francisco. The film provides an honest examination of this situation, and although I’ve never personally been in a long-distance relationship, I’d imagine it would be a lot like this.
For the most part, this is a pretty light-hearted film, but there are times when the filmmakers do a really good job of conveying the frustration of the situation. The film is relatively predictable, and it follows the path one would expect it to, but it does so in an entertaining way. There is a great ensemble of people in this film, with Jason Sudeikis from Saturday Night Live and Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia doing very funny work as Garrett’s best friends. Christina Applegate is also terrific as Erin’s sister.
Overall, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised by the film. Long and Barrymore have believable chemistry together, and the way things play out feels very natural. The humor is relatable, seldom delving into slapstick, and all of the performances in the film feel like the way real people would talk and interact.
I don’t expect much in the way of extras when it comes to films like this, but these ones were particularly bland. With features ranging from “How to Have a Perfect Date,” to “A Guide to Long-Distance Dating,” I don’t know who they were making these for. It’s not like anybody is going to watch one of these segments for advice on these issues, so I’m not really sure what the point was. Bringing absolutely no insight into the film itself, these features were basically the stars sharing their thoughs on these concepts.
There is also a commentary track from director Nanette Burstein (On the Ropes), a music video from a band in the film called The Boxer Rebellion, some deleted scenes and a look behind the scenes of the soundtrack. However, the only extra I really enjoyed was “The Cast of Going the Distance: Off the Cuff.” Unlike deleted scenes that are simply cut for whatever reason, these are extended takes of sequences that did make it into the film. It’s obvious that there was a lot of improvisation on set, and these segments are a testament to just how funny and creative the actors are. Some of them go on for a really long time, and it feels like an extended look at these characters just having a conversation. I’m sure while they were filming these, they knew that this material wouldn’t make it into the fim, and yet they kept it going, staying commited to the moment.
Overall, if you’re looking for a good romantic comedy, this would make a great choice. It doesn’t pander to the audience like so many other films in this genre. The characters feel refreshingly real, and the script is very funny. Give it a try, it’s better than it looks.