Going the Distance (2010)

Published on July 13th, 2011

Alex recommends the comedy Going the Distance (not that Canadian road trip movie from a few years ago).

Romantic comedies are an odd type of movie. Any poster that features a man (usually Matthew McConaughey) and/or a woman (usually Katherine Heigl) hugging, kissing, or coyly glancing at each other is instantly written off by most moviegoers as something that only our continent’s population of middle-aged cat ladies go to see. Sometimes talented people are in these movies, including Matthew McConaughey (he just gets trapped mostly in shitty movies [The Lincoln Lawyer was good, though] because of his physique), but they are always written off, regardless of whether or not they are actually good. I mean, in the movie going public’s defense, these movies normally suck. But sometimes when you just kind of want to watch something without much weight, these movies are really good.

Going the Distance is about a year old now, and it seems like a movie nobody saw despite everybody having seen its advertisements as summer 2010 came to a close. It is a standard romantic comedy, about a long distance relationship, but it’s also hilarious. The list of talent in the film is impressive: the apparently annoying Drew Barrymore and Justin Long may play the couple in question, but Charlie Day (!), Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate (!!), Ron Livingston, Jim Gaffigan, Rob Riggle, Kristen Schaal (!!!), and Kelli Garner all have roles as well, not to mention that all of these people get to crack jokes in an R-rated environment. I have never understood the cultural rejection (at least from people I know) of Drew Barrymore, but even if you dislike her, I can’t imagine her bothering you in this movie; she is pretty damn funny in this. Her and Justin Long work well with each other, and while most of the best parts of the movie come from supporting characters, their relationship is interesting enough to get you through the list of Seven Things That Must be Present in all Romantic Comedies:

  1. Female Character doubts herself and her career, looks for acceptance from Male Character
  2. Male Character is either just out of a relationship that he screwed up, or is a womanizer
  3. Female Character has one best friend or sister, who is hopefully played by Christina Applegate
  4. Male Character has two goofy best friends (used to be 3 until Bradley Cooper became a star and now has to play Male Characters) who we never really find out anything about, but they are normally the best part of said film
  5. Self-doubting Female Character meets Male Character, they start to fall for each other
  6. CONFLICT!
  7. RESOLUTION!

The best romantic comedies still tend to have these aspects in them, but they just happen to be done well in these movies. Drew Barrymore may be the self-doubting Female Character, but she is charming, funny, and has the single best joke of the movie; Justin Long is the relationship-screwer-upper, but he is effectively everymanish as Male Character. Christina Applegate does play Female Character’s Sister, and the Jason Sudeikis/Charlie Day duo are probably the best aspect of the movie. And while the romance aspect of the movie is extremely formulaic, it’s kind of endearing. (Fuck you, I do have emotions.)

Going the Distance is a member of the prestigious ‘I watched this multiple times in one day’ club, along with The Perfect Score, Cheaper by the Dozen, and pretty much every movie I rented as a kid. (I probably shouldn’t have called this a prestigious club.) That is not to say it is a great movie, just an infinitely watchable one. The comedy is pretty consistently hilarious, the romance surprisingly enjoyable, and Going the Distance is clearly the best of the club it is in. You want to sit down and watch a serious movie while giving your full attention to it? Definitely choose something else. But are you hung over? Tired? Want to watch something while you bullshit with a friend? In that case, Going the Distance is one of the better choices you can make.

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