Going the Distance

By: Addison Wylie

Long distance relationships are tough codes to crack. Few couples manage to take this strenuous situation and make it work. Others find it hard dealing with the fact that they won’t see each other for long amounts of time, the constant phone calls and text messages, and having that meandering thought that the other person may be fooling around with other people. Going The Distance is a movie that is a bona-fide insight into the world of long distance dating and the complications that arise. It’s also a film that captures the true moments where two people fall head-over-heels with each other; no matter how high the stakes are.

Garrett and Erin don’t know each other but both have chaos in their lives. Garrett, played by Justin Long, resides in New York, works at a recording label that isn’t fond of listening to his ideas, and has gotten out of a relationship that ended badly. Erin, played by Drew Barrymore, wants her summer internship at a newspaper office to evolve into a full-time writing job. After a day filled with disappointments, both Garrett and Erin attend the same bar. It’s soon after an incident involving Garrett distracting Erin’s game of Centipede where the two finally meet and instantly latch onto one another. Casual conversation leads to a one night stand which then transforms into casual flings and constant hang out sessions. As soon as the two love birds fall for each other, Erin’s internship finishes and she must return to San Francisco. Not wanting to let go of the potential and elusive “one”, Garrett proposes that the two start a long distance relationship. Even though the decision was a no-brainer, Garrett and Erin’s relationship is about to take a few twists and turns.

Going the Distance is a new challenge for director Nanette Burstein. Burstein, who has dabbled mostly with documentaries such as The Kid Stays in the Picture and American Teen, is faced with the task of directing a mainstream comedy with a more structured, easy-to-swallow narrative. She succeeds immensely. It can be seen that Burstein has set up a comfortable environment for her actors and has given them leeway in regards to how lines should be delivered and how the characters should react. The characters portrayed by the cast feel very genuine and relaxed because of this creative freedom supplied by the director.

Burstein is also able to adapt well to how a commercially structured film should be paced. For a film that is 102 minutes long, it’s very energetic and zips from one scene to another. She may give the actors room to improvise reactions and quips but Burstein is familiar with what jokes work and what jokes should be better left unused. By knowing what ad-libs flop, she is able to avoid having her film feel draggy.
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The script is very smart as well. First time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe is accustomed to the ups and downs long distance relationships are made up of. He is able to take potential cliches and apply realistic dialogue and complications. This adds more development to both his script and his characters. Also, like Burstein, LaTulippe is comfortable with the humour at hand. He has a well tuned ear for sharp, credible conversations that make an audience relate to the situations and motives in a scene. The only noticeable dilemma LaTulippe’s script wrestles with is the fact that it has a hard time deciding what sort of image his script should hold. Although Going the Distance looks like an innocent comedy, the film can get quite vulgar. The scenes that are filled with clean dialogue are counterbalanced by scenes with graphic exchanges and unexpected nudity. The jokes work but by witnessing a lot of scenes that could work in a PG-13 film beforehand makes the more R-rated scenes seem gratuitous and over-the-top.

Going the Distance is a bright point in the romantic comedy genre as well as a bright point on both the resumes of the director and screenwriter. By taking risks and trying something new, Burstein, LaTulippe, and the rest of the cast are able to create an original comedy that stands out by how accurate it feels. The production had it’s heart in the right place and it’s laughs in appropriate spots as well. Going the Distance will most definitely be on that definitive list of date movies that both guys and girls can enjoy.

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