‘Going The Distance’: The Reviews Are In!

'E.T.'s girlfriend and the Mac Guy ooze a laid-back, goofy charm through their pore-less skin,' The Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan writes.

I’ll go ahead and say it: I really liked “Going the Distance.” Frankly, I’m surprised more early viewers didn’t, as the Drew Barrymore comedy is currently at a meager 49 percent freshness at the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator.

What else do we want in our romantic comedies, people? I’ll surely sound like a PR flack for saying this, but “Going the Distance” has something for everyone. It’s got the aw-shucks love story, realistically drawn central characters, some fabulously raunchy supporting players in Charlie Day (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and Jason Sudeikis (“Saturday Night Live”), a plot that really does manage to avoid rom-com clichés, and it’s pretty darn funny.

I walked into the screening room with low expectations and walked out giggling. But clearly I’m in the minority. Without a big name co-star beside her, Barrymore’s films tend to open small, and “Going the Distance” will likely be no different, grossing in the $12 million-to-$15 million range. The movie deserves more love. Here’s what the critics are saying.

The Story
“The movie focuses on Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long). She is a journalism grad student wrapping up a summer internship at a New York newspaper; he works for a record company based in the city. … Erin and Garrett meet over a vintage video game, get stoned, have sex and become a couple. But once her internship ends, she heads back to California and the two struggle to make a long-distance relationship work. Texting goes only so far; what about physical contact? Temptations are tossed in, in the form of flirty, understanding co-workers of the opposite sex.” — Randy Cordova, The Arizona Republic

The Stars
“Drew Barrymore and Justin Long make one cute couple. Whether or not the actors’ on-again-off-again real-life romance helped their performances as lovers frustrated by geography — he’s in Manhattan, she’s in San Francisco — it’s clear they have chemistry. E.T.’s girlfriend and the Mac Guy ooze a laid-back, goofy charm through their pore-less skin. They’re a modern-day Hepburn and Grant.” — Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post

The Direction
“Nanette Burstein, whose previous films have been well-regarded documentaries (‘American Teen,’ ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture’), doesn’t direct with the surest hand — at times, her camera performs distracting tricks unrelated to the material. But she knows how to let things happen between actors. Unlike the majority of wisecracking but dead-eyed rom-com couples, Barrymore and Long seem to take real joy in each other’s company. I’ll take that as an excuse to cling to the hope that romantic comedy, that poor, maligned, once-glorious filmic genre, may someday rise again.” — Dana Stevens, Slate

The Haters
“[T]his uneven movie is more a compilation of contemporary images and concerns peppered with derivative raucous scenarios, à la Judd Apatow movies, than an involving romantic comedy. There are the formulaic montages — lots of scenes of Barrymore and Long making out all over Manhattan — and predictable moments like getting high amid giggles and prattling on about their favorite movies. When Long goes to the tanning booth, it’s hard to keep from groaning, given how many rom-coms feel the need to insert a tanning casualty scene. Long, in goofy shower cap, gamely manages to make this sequence funnier than previous on-screen tanning debacles. In his first romantic lead, Long gets the most laughs, his pleasantly offhand and quick wit coming off in an almost improvisational style. He and Barrymore are both convincing as best friends who fall in love. They needed a better playing field.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Final Word
“First-time writer Geoff LaTulippe could have written Erin as nothing but a male fantasy of the ‘cool’ girlfriend, but guided by his smart script, directed by Nanette Burstein and played by the timelessly appealing Barrymore, Erin turns into a real, vulnerable, relatable person. The same goes for Long as Garrett, and the rest of the movie for that matter — ‘Going the Distance’ is by no means perfect, but it’s light years beyond the average rom-com, bracingly honest and genuinely funny about the ups and downs of relationships. Barrymore and Long, once a real-life couple and now who-knows-what, have a real chemistry that complements their well-written, realistic characters, and even when the movie falls apart around them in the third act, we root for these two crazy kids and their shot at romance. They elevate the story beyond its more flawed moments, but really, ‘Going the Distance’ is pretty special all on its own.” — Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

Check out everything we’ve got on “Going the Distance.”

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