Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 36
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW: Erin, (Drew Barrymore, left) returns to her graduate studies at Stanford University in California, while her boyfriend Garrett, (Justin Long) remains in New York. Although each one vows eternal love for the other, the huge distance between them leads to doubts about each one’s behavior when they are separated.

Going the Distance: Frustrated Lovebirds Pine From Afar in Romantic Comedy

Kam Williams

Among the fundamental elements critical to the enjoyment of a romantic comedy are: an engaging plot, authentic chemistry between the romantic pair, and enough laughs to make you forget that it’s all leading to a predictable “happily ever after” resolution. There’s none of the above in Going the Distance, a mirthless indulgence in narcissism which fails to deliver any of the above basics of the genre.

The movie marks the first foray into drama by director Nanette Burstein, whose remarkable directorial debut On the Ropes, earned her an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary category in 2000. Unfortunately, this film, co-starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, is exactly the opposite of exceptional.

The story revolves around the long distance relationship between Erin (Barrymore), a Stanford graduate student majoring in journalism, and Garrett (Long), a New York City talent scout disenchanted with the record company he works for, which only allows him to sign mediocre bands that have commercial potential. Erin, who’s interning at a prestigious newspaper in Manhattan, meets Garret at a trendy singles bar. Their instantaneous mutual attraction leads to a passionate fling that continues over the summer.

However, despite a parting exchange of promises at the airport to remain faithful to each other, trouble develops soon after Erin returns to California to complete her degree. After awhile the phone conversations aren’t enough, and neither of them can afford to fly across the country on weekends. Worse, Garrett becomes irrationally jealous of Erin’s platonic friend, (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), while she worries about what he might be up to when he is hanging out with his bawdy bachelor buddies (Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day).

The most frustrating conundrum facing the lovebirds is whether either one of them will put the other’s needs first in order to be able live together in the same city. Career oriented Erin will only move back to the Big Apple if she lands a full time job, and he isn’t inclined to quit his job just to be with her either. While such selfish attitudes might reflect the practical reality of mating habits in the 21st century, the behavior of both of them is such that they render themselves totally unsympathetic.

The only reason to root for a reunion at the end of the movie is because these two unsympathetic characters deserve each other.

Fair (1 star). Rated R for sexuality, profanity, crude humor, drug use, and brief nudity. Running time: 97 Minutes. Studio: New Line Cinema.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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