Blu-ray Review: GOING THE DISTANCE - Funny, Slightly Off-Beat Rom Com

I fully did not expect to say this but I genuinely looked forward to reviewing this blu-ray having already seen Drew Barrymore and Justin Long try and make their long distance relationship work at the cinema late last year. There I said it - it's far from being a perfect film, but I enjoyed myself. Oh and I liked Whip It! as well. Don't judge me too harshly, it's been an odd few weeks.

Going The Distance is available now on Blu-ray and DVD. And it's much, much better than an actual long distance relationship with all the heavy phone breathing and expensive train fares. What we do for a shag eh?!

In the current film landscape it is quite refreshing to come across a self-proclaimed romantic comedy that isn't completely trite and predictable, and which has actual tension and a believable obstacle. Going the Distance is also unflinchingly honest, which again is pretty refreshing these days, though it tempers that somewhat with an Apatow like filthy mouth, and a tendency to let the audience see its knickers a few too many times. Still, it is great fun, and I wouldn't hesitate to watch it again.

Justin Long and Drew Barrymore are good enough actors, and likeable enough to make this more than the usual cookie cutter rom-com fare. In the hands of someone else, the characters would probably be horribly offputting (look at Love & Other Drugs- yuk!), and the film would have been just another disposable rom-com that we routinely see on a monthly basis. But Justin Long is a very talented comic actor- his timing is great and he appeals on a very humanist level, even when he's playing unlikeable characters. And beside him Drew Barrymore holds her own, revelling in the slightly more off-colour subject matter that she is playing with here.

Aside from leads, the rest of the cast are excellent- especially Ron Livingston (who I think I could watch in anything), Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and a pithy Christina Applegate, and they cumulatively work very well, though there is a noticeable abundance of testosterone, even in the way the female characters are written, that makes you just occasionally wish there was a stronger female presence for balance. As it is the fraternity-house humour that crops up sporadically is like a slap in the face, especially given its ferocity in comparison to the rest of the plodding PG-13 tone.

The finale might be a little overly sweet, but I suppose it's a romantic comedy, and not a heartbreak comedy, so I can forgive it that, and both the manner in which it reaches its denouement and the surprisingly touching performances that get us there are both more than worthy distractions.

At the end of the day, Going The Distance is a lot like the holiday romances that usually start long distance love affairs: it seems to insist of its own importance, so you're temporarily swept up, but you have to be realistic with this sort of thing. It's a bit of fun- something different from the mundanity of everything else, but it shouldn't be invested in too heavily, because it ultimately can't fully reward how much you put into it. As I say, good fun though, and its over-riding honesty is its greatest asset.

Quality

A little bit of everything, all thrown into one- i.e. a tale of inconsistency. While colours and flesh-tones are generally good, blacks are way too muted and levels are indistinct. Detail is again generally good, but there are a lot of soft shots, and probably as a result of the problems with the blacks, they suffer more when scenes are dimly lit. It isn't terribly intrusive, but when a film tries a little harder than most rom-coms to achieve a better, more indie-feeling aesthetic, it becomes infinitely more noticeable, which is a shame. The blu-ray sounds good enough, with conversations sounding clear and perfectly crisp- which is all you can ask for of a wordy comedy like this really. I was impressed with the live music scenes as well, with a very immersive accompanying soundtrack, though really that was the only chance the audio got to show off.

Extras

Too much that looks like nothing more than promo material, though the Deleted Scenes are pretty funny- you can see why they were cut though: the film already has too much of the frat-like perverted humour that most of them feature, so any more scenes like that in the finished product might have been a step too far. The audio commentary is pretty hit-and-miss as well, and I usually look forward to that part of the Extras sampling. Deleted Scenes (13 mins) Audio Commentary €“ Director Nanette Burstein How to Have the Perfect Date (8 mins) A Guide to Long Distance Dating (8 mins) The Cast of 'Going the Distance': Off The Cuff (4 mins) Music Video (3 mins) Behind the Scenes of 'Going the Distance' Soundtrack (2 mins) Going The Distance is available on Blu-ray from today.
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