I was looking for a romantic comedy to enjoy on a date night. I knew that Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, the stars of Going The Distance, have had a romance in real life. So I was curious to see how their romantic chemistry would radiate onscreen.
Drew and Justin play New York singles in their 30’s with stunted maturity. As they meet onscreen, Drew starts spewing the F word with a force and frequency that would make truck drivers blush. Justin curses back with the same ferocity. Since like attracts like, these two angry, lost singles seem to have met their match.
Did they need to curse constantly to reveal how hip and lost they are? Absolutely not. This gratuitous cursing blocks the romance in a romantic comedy. It needlessly assaults the audience and makes it hard for us to like the stars of the film. It’s a sign that the characters, or the verbally-stunted screenwriter, need to learn some anger management and communication skills if they want to express themselves like grownups and fulfill their talents in life and love.
As a mid-life grad student and intern for the New York Chronicle, Drew’s character wants to be a writer. When she wrangles a chance to write her first article about a charity for children, you only hope she can choose her written words with more wit, wisdom and eloquence than she does in conversation.
If you can see beyond these verbal ticks, you catch a glimpse of what attracted these two actors to each other in real life and in the film. They light up in each others presence. They make each other laugh easily and often. They let powerful, passionate impulses lead them into compromising positions, which are amusing. They guide each other to use their talents at work as a writer for Drew’s character and in the music business for Justin Long’s character, Garrett. They even elevate the potty humor and sexual voyeurism of an immature roommate in endearing ways that spark screen chemistry.
And they grow as individuals and as a couple in this film. When they make choices for career over relationship, they feel the pain and self-correct. They gradually figure out what it takes to love someone and go the distance in a relationship worth saving.
That’s a valuable love lesson which makes this film and it’s terrific soundtrack worth your time and twelve bucks–assuming you can stomach the relentless F-word rants that are better suited to the intense characters in a David Mamet play. In a romantic comedy, this language is a misguided turnoff that lowered my rating to two stars.
Love deeply and live your dreams now,