Sunday, September 5, 2010

At the Movies: (Kicking Off the Fall Movie Line-up With) Going the Distance

It was a beautiful, sunny Labor Day weekend Sunday - which meant, of course, that I wanted to go to the movies. I hadn't been for the last couple of weekends and was feeling the void. So, on our way home from my sister's apartment (the bf and I had stayed there last night after attending our friend's [her best friend's] wedding), we stopped off to see Going the Distance, which had opened Friday. Undoubtedly, you've seen the commercials. Distance stars real-life couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. (They're an on-again/off-again kind of duo, but according to my most recent Google update, they're currently "on.") Drew Barrymore plays Erin, a Stanford journalism student spending the summer in New York doing a newspaper internship, and Justin Long plays Garrett, a New Yorker working for a soulless record label. Garrett has a history of misunderstanding women and has never been in love, and Erin once dropped out of grad school for a guy who broke her heart (this explains why she's a 31-year-old intern). They meet at a bar (where "Flight of the Conchords" stalker Kristen Schaal pours the drinks) and get together for a fling. Six weeks later, when it's time for Erin to return to San Francisco, they realize they're in love. So, they try the long distance thing. Heartache peppered with raunchiness ensues, with Garrett's buddies (Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) trying to drown his sorrows in pitchers of beer and Erin's sister (Christina Applegate) unabashedly dispensing tough love advice.

So, was it what I expected? Not really. It was more serious than the trailers let on, and not a little wrenching. But I liked that about it, appreciating its commitment to keeping things real. I could especially identify with Erin, a writer looking for a job in a world where print journalism is dying. She tries to get a permanent position at the New York newspaper where she interned to no avail and meets with the same rejection at every other publication in the city. Finally, she's offered a job with a San Francisco paper. Garrett is less than pleased, they fight, and he ends up asking her to move in with him, in New York. Touched, she accepts, planning to continue waitressing until a writing job opens up. Her brother-in-law (Jim Gaffigan) suggests she start a blog. (She doesn't).

At the last minute, Garrett steps in and tells her she can't throw her life away and needs to take the job. She does. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, their breakup is very sad, a classic case of two people wanting different things. They each go on with their lives, but of course it's not the same. Then Erin receives tickets to see the band that she and Garrett first saw together. She goes, and of course he's there. He's ditched his dreaded job, become the band's manager, and now lives in Los Angeles, which is only an hour's plane ride away.

For a minute there, I thought it might be one of those movies where they don't get back together. Kind of like The Breakup, or 500 Days of Summer. So, I was relieved that that wasn't the case. But I was also left thinking that San Francisco and Los Angeles are still kind of far away for maintaining a healthy relationship. (That's the cynic in me showing its colors). Anyway, at least it was a more realistic ending than if Garrett had, say, landed a job in San Francisco. I gave myself more closure by deciding that the ending was trying to say that successful relationships thrive on never-ending compromise. (Although the movie delivered the message in a much less cheesy way than I just did.)

Overall, I think Going the Distance was good and undeserving of its bad reviews. But that's just this humble viewer's opinion.

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