DVD Review: Going the Distance

Going the Distance DVD Box ArtMovie Info:
Writer: Geoff LaTulippe
Director: Nanette Burstein
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston, Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Rating: R
Studio: New Line Cinema

Release Info:
DVD Release Date: November 30, 2010
Online Availability: Amazon for $14.99

I have to tell you that I enjoy a good Rom Com. It might be surprising, but it is true. Beneath the big-bellied machismo of a man I am is a sensitive, caring romantic at heart. Drew Barrymore is just adorable, so I usually enjoy the movies she is in. I loved her in Never Been Kissed, 50 First Dates, and The Wedding Singer. Of course Going the Distance isn’t exactly an Adam Sandler film and Barrymore’s Erin is no Julia Gulia. But, and this is a big BUT, this movie is an honest little ditty of a flick. It’s sugary sweet with a cherry on top, especially the ending. I am sure you can guess what’s gonna happen before the movie even begins, but I’m not about to be a spoil sport and ruin it for you.

As sweet and simple as Going the Distance is, there are moments of boring. The plot runs rather dry at times, and it feels almost too predictable. Rom Coms are predictable, of course. We watch them because we know what is going to happen. We want to find happiness with the characters. We want to feel their joy and their love. That is why we go see these movies. It is not so much not knowing what the story entails, but rather wanting to enjoy a new version of an old story we’ve overplayed many times. It is the newness of the old that we crave, and when the timeless tale of love is able to reinvent itself, we too fall in love all over again.

Going the Distance Screenshot 1

The problem here is that Going the Distance almost seems too familiar. Yes, they’ve added in things like phone sex that I do not often recall seeing in other romantic comedies, but the few bits added in for shock value really do not add the newness, I, as a Rom Com fan, crave. The plot just sort of plods along to where it is going and it feels like the actors are just going through the motions. While Barrymore and Long work well together in this genre, they do not have enough love in the world to prevent Going the Distance from bordering on becoming a snooze-fest, at times. It’s kind of sad, because the two have a lot of promise together, as a Rom Com team.

Ultimately, I blame the script, by newbie, Geoff Latulippe. Latulippe may understand the outer conventions of a Rom Com, but it is clear he has a flimsy grasp of the inner-workings of a Rom Com script. When it comes to the comedy, Latulippe tries too hard. Instead of being funny, the dialogue is often awkward. It is the kind of dialogue I imagine a group of teens saying as they act out in their backyard with their camcorder in hand. It’s sad because I’ve seen Drew Barrymore be good. In Going the Distance she’s okay, but when you’ve seen her be brilliant, okay just isn’t good enough. Justin Long has been in a lot of Rom Coms, but I am not as in love with him as I am Drew. I think he has some potential, but Going the Distance wasn’t the right film for him to highlight that.

The Going the Distance Movie Guide
Erin is a woman in her early 30s who has fallen behind in life. She still is in grad school, with a potential future that has yet to start. While interning for the summer at a newspaper in New York, she meets Garrett. The two bump into each other at a bar and hit it off well enough to go back to Garrett’s and have sex. Garrett, who manages a band through a label, implores Erin to have breakfast with him the morning after, and the two continue to find a common interest. However, Erin lets him know she is only interning for six more weeks and will be heading home to the west coast then. The two decided to have a casual fling until she leaves.

Going the Distance Screenshot 2

When it is time for Erin to go, the two have spent enough time together to grow quite close to one another. After Garrett professes his feelings for Erin, the two decide to have a long distance relationship. The distance is hard, but for a while, they are able to maintain their relationship, professing their hope that soon they will be together. They both also try to visit one another whenever they get the chance. The distance does not help Garrett, who already hates his job and thinks the band he manages absolutely sucks. When he goes to visit Erin, things seem good, but quickly become awkward, partly thanks to her sister, Corinne.

The two fight and their relationship seems on the rocks, but they both seem to want to try and work it out. Erin tries to get a job in New York at the paper where she interned. Instead, she is offered a job in San Francisco. Garrett is desperate to have their relationship work out. He wants her to move to New York, where they can move in together and see where this goes. With her career finally about to start, Erin must decide between the chance at a career or living with the man she believes might just be the love of her life.

Storyline/Plot: ★☆☆☆☆
Replayability: ★★☆☆☆
Acting: ★★★☆☆
Directing: ★☆☆☆☆

Just like the movie itself, inconsistency is the name of the game here. 1080p sounds good in theory, but Going the Distance fizzles and fades when it comes to getting things done visually. Daytime scenes look brilliant, but the nighttime scenes are unsatisfying to say the least. Issues with noise crop up more than once and it’s just rather disappointing for a Blu-ray. Details could be better. Colors change and do not remain strong. If this were a DVD one might be able to ignore some of these issues, but it’s not. At best, this is an acceptable transfer that borders on dull.

Going the Distance Screenshot 3

The main thing going for this 5.1 DTS HD MA soundtrack is that its a romcom. That being said, you don’t really expect to hear sound like you might at a Guns N’ Roses concert. Dialogue is the name of the game here and the track succeeds on the basis that you can hear the actors and there isn’t too many issues with clarity. The music scenes are alright, but never truly offer that surround feel that would have been nice here. Special sound effects aren’t really a big part of this movie, so there isn’t much to offer in that respect. This ends up working for this film, but it’s hardly dynamic, engrossing sound. There is also a lesser English mix offered here as well as some 5.1 presentations in French and Spanish. Subtitles are offered in English, French, and Spanish also.

Visual: ★★★☆☆
Audio: ★★★½☆

Bonus Features:
There are some fluffy offerings here, but at the end of the day, it’s not like it really matters because the film isn’t much worthy of any special features. You get to listen to a commentary by first time feature film director (Burstein had done documentaries previously, but never a romcom like this) and then they offer some of the usual featurettes on dating, the cast, and things of that sort.

Deleted Scenes: Here you have about thirteen minutes worth of the same things you found in the movie. Sure, some of these things are worth a laugh, but like the movie there isn’t much to fall in love with.

The Audio Commentary is the only thing that I can imagine that could make this movie worse. While I had hopes for Erin and Garrett it clearly wasn’t thanks to the director Nanette Burstein. I thought the name seemed familiar to me and then I realized who Burstein was. Known for her documentary, American Teen, where Burstein tried to make all teenagers fit into the Breakfast Club box, Burstein was probably the last person I would have picked for a romcom. If you doubted her before listening to this, you might find that things only continue to get worse as you listen. She spends a good time babbling about how this is her first actual fictional film. Funnily enough, she also stresses the importance of the other characters in the film. She’s really helpful, in a non-interesting sort of way. I’d skip this is I were you, but if you’re a glutton for punishment or find yourself clipping your toenails for a couple of hours with nothing else to do, you might want to give this a listen.

“How to Have the Perfect Date” – This lasts for under ten minutes and gives you a chance to learn about the cast members and the perfect idea of their date.

“A Guide to Long Distance Dating” – This is another featurette that lasts for less than ten minutes. This looks at the cast and their thoughts on the characters and what happens to them in the movie.

Going the Distance Screenshot 4

“The Cast of Going the Distance: Off the Cuff” – If you like improv, this gives you about four minutes of the cast showing off their skills.

The only other features are a music video for The Boxer Rebellion (the band in the movie) and a Behind the Scenes for the movie soundtrack.

Bonus Features: ★½☆☆☆

Bottom Line:
I love me some Drew Barrymore, but I prefer her in the Rom Coms that actually have comedy in them. This movie can be cute at times. It is a sweet story, but it is also boring with dialogue that makes even me want to groan. Unfortunately, I feel that Going the Distance is kind of like Drew’s relationship with Justin Long. It just doesn’t have longevity. This might be a good movie to rent, especially if you like Drew and Justin, or either one of them, but I don’t think you’re going to want to watch this more than once.

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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About the author: Chuck

I am a Southerner, proud and true. At 37 years old, I've learned enough of life's lessons to know that nothing is as it seems in the beginning. I live in South Carolina with my dog, Big Blue and my son, Hunter. I enjoy watching NASCAR, writing short stories, riding on my ATV, and a drinking a cold beer with friends in front of the television.

1 comment

  1. Janice says:

    I’ve seen this movie too and I really got something from it. It even made me realized that being in a long distance relationship, trust and loyalty is a must. If the both of you bounded by love, then nothing can break the relationship apart.

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