AWFJ Women On Film – “Going The Distance” – Review by Susan Granger

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Given the vicarious nature of our gossip-riddled culture, it’s not surprising that on-screen pairings often ignite off-screen romances – or vice-versa, which seems to be the case here. Uma Thurman met Ethan Hawke during “Gattaca” and Angelina Jolie lured Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston while making “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” yet by the time Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck made “Gigli,” their relationship had gone sour. So, while Hollywood sweetheart Drew Barrymore chose as her co-star genial Fairfield native Justin Long, best known as the “Mac Guy” in the Apple vs. PC commercials, concurrent with their intermittent off-screen involvement, their on-screen chemistry is non-existent.

While working as an intern on the New York Sentinel, 31 year-old Stanford journalism grad student Erin (Barrymore) hooks up with junior record-label exec Garrett (Long). When their summer fling turns into a full-fledged romance, they’re faced with a serious geographic problem: she’s in San Francisco, he’s in Manhattan. And airfare is so expensive that they cannot afford to fly cross-country with any regularity.

Novice screenwriter Geoff La Tulippe has come up with a relevant predicament, coupled with contemporary uncertainty, yet it deserves better treatment than descending into the kind of coarse vulgarity that characterizes a crude Judd Apatow comedy – like explicit phone sex, masturbation and having one lout conversing with friends while on the toilet with the door open. Filthy language spews out of Erin’s smartass mouth and the supporting characters are contrived caricatures, particularly Garrett’s boorish buddies, Dan (Charlie Day) and Box (Jason Sudeikis), and Erin’s disapproving, over-protective sister Corinne (Christina Applegate).

First-time feature-film director Nanette Burstein’s clumsy, forced pacing amplifies the long-distance dilemma by making minutes seem like hours. She also breaks believability by having Erin eschew a car seatbelt and placing a pivotal Erin/Garrett encounter in an airport departure lounge when only one of them is boarding a plane. Because of TSA rules, this has become totally implausible.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Going the Distance” falls short with a self-conscious, foul-mouthed 5. As a romantic comedy, it’s a disappointment.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.