Combustible Celluloid
Get the Poster
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
Download at i-tunes Download on iTunes
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Jim Gaffigan, Natalie Morales, Kelli Garner, June Diane Raphael, Rob Riggle, Sarah Burns, Terry Beaver, Matt Servitto
Written by: Geoff LaTulippe
Directed by: Nanette Burstein
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity
Running Time: 109
Date: 08/27/2010

Going the Distance (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Miles and Smiles

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Most American romantic comedies depend on some kind of lie to keep the drama going for 90 minutes. One love partner has some big secret that he or she just can't quite manage to tell the other. This basically means that, if someone would just speak up, there wouldn't be a movie. It goes without saying that this renders most romantic comedies totally uninteresting. Happily, Nanette Burstein's new Going the Distance is merely about a tough situation. Both partners are totally honest with one another, and they're genuinely in love, but they're simply having a tough time with the distance between them.

Garrett is a music lover who works as a record company in New York. He meets Erin (Drew Barrymore) and they hit it off, spending a blissful six weeks together before she moves back to California. She was an intern at a New York newspaper, but her time is up and there are no real jobs waiting for her. They fly out to see one another when they can, but money is tight. They talk on the phone, text and chat via the internet. Things get tougher when Erin is offered a real job at the San Francisco Chronicle. Finally, it gets to a breaking point at which they must either connect for real, or call it a day.

Describing it makes it sound depressing, but director Nanette Burstein -- the director of the documentaries On the Ropes (1999), The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) and American Teen (2008) -- keeps the mood just right. The entire cast consists of able-bodied comedians, and a great deal of the movie has been improvised, so the laughs keep coming. (If you can't laugh about this situation, what else can you do?) Garrett has two buddies (Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) devoted to his well-being, and Christina Applegate is a standout as Erin's concerned and intense sister.

The movie loses some points for its not-very-realistic portrayal of the two cities. New York is real, but Erin's newspaper is not, and San Francisco was shot almost entirely elsewhere (except for a couple of touristy establishing shots). Setting up the two cities as potentially opposing characters in the love story could have strengthened and deepened the movie a bit, but the Garrett and Erin are already so solid, and so well performed, that the movie works anyway.

Burstein and screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe are also paying loving tribute to those select few who toil at jobs they love for very little pay (not to mention showing how the changing world is chiseling away at the few jobs that do exist), a concept with which I am not entirely unfamiliar. Happily, the filmmakers themselves have managed to instill this concept of "labor of love" throughout Going the Distance.

New Line Cinema has released a fairly fluffy Blu-Ray. It comes with a few silly featurettes (cast & crew interviews about dating, improv, and such), deleted scenes, a music video, and a commentary track by Burstein. The 2.4:1 transfer is excellent. There is a combo pack available with a DVD, Blu-Ray and digital copy.

Hulu Castle Rock SVOD