Blu-Ray Review: Going the Distance Doesn't Quite Go the Distance

Six weeks is all it takes to find true love. That's roughly how much time passes before struggling newspaper intern Erin (Drew Barrymore) and record company representative Garrett (Justin Long) decide their summer fling is something more and worth Going the Distance (as in long distance).

After meeting in a bar, the pair bond -- like most '80s adolescents (and 30-somethings in a script written by nostalgic 30-somethings) -- over their fondness for Centipede (the video game) and Top Gun. The requisite rom-com montage also recaps their frolicking in the surf and sharing other magical moments. But before they can canoodle off into the sunset they have to overcome the mandatory romantic comedy conflict that's designed to make their inevitable happy ending all the more satisfying. In Erin and Garrett's case it's keeping their love alive when the summer's over and Erin must return to San Francisco to finish her Stanford master's degree. From frequent cross-country flights to phone sex, texting, and watching sneezing YouTube panda videos simultaneously while on their cell phones, they try to make their long-distance romance last.

If they get lonely they can turn to their respective comic entourages for their (and presumably the audience's) entertainment. Garrett's consists of his two best bros: roommate Dan (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's cat-food-huffing bar janitor Charlie) and Box (SNL's Jason Sudeikis). They're always there for useful advice (useful for the film's comic setups), like suggesting Garrett cover up his pasty skin with a spray tan before he visits Erin. Meanwhile, Erin relies on her dry-humping sister Corinne (Christina Applegate) and brother-in-law Phil (Jim Gaffigan), whom she shares a home with. Yes, dry-humping. As in, they dry hump on their dining room table. Of course, in all fairness, Erin and Garrett have their share of hip-grinding hanky-panky on the same table. Dry-humping, penis puns, pooping faux pas, and more inappropriate quips and soliloquies just about sum up Going the Distance's trying-too-hard, sex-fixated sense of humor. Is this is as far as the film's comic muscle can flex (excluding the marriage-is-hell jokes)? That's not to say some of these quips aren't amusing -- but a few good genital jokes go a long way. Screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe (like many of his colleagues) apparently doesn't believe that the best comedy comes from characters. Dan (Charlie Day) does, however, deliver a dose of goofiness that makes for a memorably laughable running joke.

Regardless of the hit-or-miss jokes, Going the Distance has a talented cast who mesh well and take the film as far as they're able. Long and Barrymore have likable couple chemistry, plus, the notion of sweethearts straining to make their long-distance love work is perfectly fine fodder for a romantic comedy. The pair's plight should resonate with modern daters while it plumbs the emotional perils of long-distance relationships deep enough (but not too deep) for a lighthearted love story. Alas, it's the too-contrived comic plot and disingenuous, nonstop sex dialogue that gets in the way of what might have been a rom-com that completely goes the distance; instead it falters before it makes it to the finish line.

Special features:

In addition to director's commentary, deleted scenes, and interviews with The Boxer Rebellion (the indie band featured in the film and soundtrack), the Going the Distance Blu-ray wants to offer viewers some real-life dating advice. Cast and filmmakers reveal their candid and wise-cracking insights on topics like "how to have the perfect date" (from anti-fungal cream pick-up lines to the goodnight kiss) and "a guide to long-distance dating" (the gist: it doesn't work, except in their movie). An "off the cuff" montage of ad-libbed scenes and outtakes aims to show off the cast's comic chops.

Going the Distance is available now on Blu-ray from New Line Home Video.