Much like Drew Barrymore, “Going the Distance” is so intent on being cutesy and bubbly that it’s nauseating, and what contributes to Nanette Burstein’s romance comedy being utterly insufferable is its insistence on being two types of movies. It wants so hard to be thought of as a sleazy comedy with incessant and tedious improvisations from every single actor who gets more than a minute on-screen. It also wants to be a cutesy chick flick about a lovely geeky guy and an ambitious young girl who try to keep their romance sweltering over a long distance. And none of it works. Were it not for writer Geoff LaTulippe’s insistence on attempting to please both audiences and entertaining neither.
Whether it’s regurgitating gags (the tanning booth disaster wasn’t funny in “Friends”), continuing with the endless montages and eighties references so anxiously trying to convey our characters eccentricities (You like “Top Gun” and play “Centipede,” you’re so wacky and retro!), or just delivering non-stop adlibbing from the actors that never achieve remotely audible giggles, “Going the Distance” is almost unwatchable. It lacks in entertainment, charm, or even the slightest bit of humanity, and tries to wear its edge on its sleeve from minute one. It either panders to the nostalgia crowd, or panders to the comic crowds. And it never actually eases up on its mission to keep the comic actors rambling on hoping to make us laugh. Charlie Day rants about masturbation.
Jason Sudeikis makes a speech about his mustache. Rob Riggle gets the chance to be a militant douche bag yet again. Kristen Schall gets to act geeky! And hey, even Christina Applegate gets a chance to riff about dry humping! Good for them. At least all of these hipster comedians get a chance to make themselves laugh. Meanwhile, “Going the Distance” never knows where it wants to go or what it really want to do with itself from the very opening. Sometimes it wants to adhere to the romance comedy formula for the audiences horrified of new. But it also wants to convince us that it’s so much more different than the romance comedies we’ve seen a dozen times before.
Never does it really make the differences the least bit entertaining and it fails to keep us watching especially when stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long have zero chemistry or believability as a couple. When they’re not forcing the cutesy routine on the viewer, they fail to actually shed insight on the troubles of long distance relationships. It’s too stuck in its pursuit to convince us it’s wittier than we think, it never says a thing about long distance relationships that we can take away in the end. It’s pretty pathetic when the only interesting character is played by the gorgeous Kelli Garner who drifts in and out of the movie every half hour for ten minutes to deliver her sub-plot that we know will end with a surprise and a thud. “Going the Distance” is just not worth your time and effort.
The DVD features nothing. The Blu-Ray features the segment “How to Have a Perfect Date,” and “A Guide to Long Distance Dating.” As well there’s a featurette showing the cast improvising and often failing, there’s a commentary from director Nanette Burstein, a music video from Boxer Rebellion, and a Behind the Scenes of the soundtrack. Like most of Drew Barrymore’s outputs, “Going the Distance” is barely watchable. It’s a confused genre mess filled with a writer who is incapable of deciding if they’re writing a clever adult comedy, or a cheesy romance comedy. Neither formulas work to the film’s benefit and is never as entertaining as it wants to convince us it is.