‘Distance’ doesn’t reach destination

Delaney Lovett

For a movie with fairly low expectations, “Going the Distance” accurately portrayed the challenges of a long-distance relationship between two career-driven individuals, and there were quite a few laughs along the way.

Garrett (Long) and Erin (Barrymore) meet one drunken night at a bar, and hit it off immediately. Erin warns him right away that she’s only in New York for an internship and will be leaving to return to graduate school and her waitressing job in San Francisco in a few weeks. Their agreement to a casual relationship allows them to show who they really are and enjoy what they have together, and by the time Erin has to leave, they decide to give long-distance a try.

They encounter the problems of most couples living so far away from each other: there are time and trust conflicts, technology issues, and sexual desires that aren’t being fulfilled. Finding time for each other is more difficult than either of them expected, with overlapping work and school schedules and a three-hour time difference. They know it isn’t sensible to think a relationship can last between two people living across the country from each other, but there’s no easy way to solve that problem without significant sacrifices from one or both of them.

As a real-life couple, Long and Barrymore have great chemistry on the screen. Long appears to put Barrymore at ease. Barrymore, in turn, ditches her usually cutesy acting routine for the refreshingly edgy character of Erin. Long is part of a trio of hilarious friends played by Jason Sudeikis (“Saturday Night Live”) and Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), which brings on many of the laughs in “Distance.” Christina Applegate plays Corinne, Erin’s quirky, germaphobe sister. Corinne dislikes Garrett from the moment they meet – on her kitchen table, on top of Erin – which adds to the film’s conflict.

Much of the humor is achieved immaturely and through swearing, but not so much that it’s distasteful. One of the best parts of the film is watching Garrett and Erin react to their oddball friends who, for the most part, don’t support their relationship. Some of these characters have been through long-distance relationships and are acting in the best interest of their friends, but in a comedic fashion.

New to Hollywood, screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe does a great job of keeping the script genuine and down-to-earth. The couple faces real problems: Erin has to decide whether to take her dream job as a newspaper journalist in San Fransisco or to take a job as a waitress in New York in order to be with her boyfriend, and neither one can afford a plane ticket every weekend or to take substantial time off from work. Director Nanette Burstein, better known as a director of documentaries, also plays a part in the authenticity of “Distance” by focusing on the characters and their emotions. Some scenes, like one of Garrett and Erin’s first dates, made me feel like I was watching a couple in real life.

I’m surprised that this theme has not been seen much in the cinema before, especially with how much long-distance relationships have changed in the recent years due to technology. Though fairly clever and enjoyable, “Distance” doesn’t travel far enough.