GOING THE DISTANCE review; balanced rom-com that will appeal to both sexes

rating: 3

Garrett (Justin Long) and Erin (Drew Barrymore) embark on a long distance relationship in this romantic comedy with an indie edge. Directed by Nanette Burstein, famous for her documentaries such as American Teen and On the Ropes, this marks her first foray into feature film. Thankfully Burstein has taken a more comedic than romantic route on this one with a favourable double act from Charlie Day (It€™s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Jason Sudeikis (SNL) as Long€™s two best friends. With their brutal honesty and brotherly advice the platform is set for them to get the biggest laughs. Barrymore is excellent as a feisty, funny laidback kind of chick who drinks, smokes weed and easily gets the highest score on arcade games. It is refreshing to see a female in this kind of film who openly enjoys sex and doesn€™t over-analyse her male counterpart€™s actions. Her scenes with Long are endearing and fun and the chemistry between the two comes across through their conversational fluidity. Justin Long is a pleasure to watch and makes the transition into the leading male love interest easily, nothing about his acting feels forced. Long€™s charm is rewarded with the amount of screen time he gets and so many of the highlights from this film come from his rapport with Day and Sudeikis, the comic timing between them is spot on. The only real issue I had with Going the Distance is that it often shuffles between sincere intimacy and farcical, slapstick, gross- out moments that don€™t seem to fit into the tone of the film. You can really sense Burstein€™s documentary roots working away and coming to fruition throughout but they are oddly juxtaposed with cheap laughs including some phone sex and a spray tanning of Garrett highly reminiscent of a scene from Friends. Burstein has cleverly employed some guerrilla filming and unscripted improvisation across the setting of New York, which really captures the awkwardness, excitement and intimacy of a budding relationship. She has used New York as the backdrop to its full potential but the canvas of San Francisco was overlooked with some obvious lazy landmark shots. Her mixture of filming techniques hits the spot but the addition of text speak, iphone bubbles across the screen and YouTube clips does come across as a little bit contrived. With an exceptionally well thought out soundtrack that fuses classic with modern indie and Garrett€™s position as an A&R man for a record label, the music is integral to the film and adds to its strength. The clichéd getting to know you montage of an early relationship is only redeemed by the accompanying music. And there are moments of comedy gold served up through the use of some well known movie soundtracks. An above average comedy with some great standout performances from the supporting cast. A film that is intelligent enough to keep you engaged and balanced enough for both sexes to enjoy. Going The Distance opens in the U.K. on September 10th. You can follow the film on facebook here.
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