A love story traversing the ups and downs of meeting the person of your dreams and then trying to make it work with 3000 miles between you
I had a mixed reaction when I saw this pop out of the Retro Streaming randomizer. Not because I have anything against romantic comedies per say, but because by and large most romantic comedies are just really, really shitty. And everything on the surface shouted “fuzzy rom-com”, including the God awful poster. They may as well have been leaning up against each other with their arms crossed.
Then I started to look at the cast list; aside from the leads there were some grounded comedy actors in this; Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis, Jim Gaffigan, Kristen Schaal. So with an open mind I ventured in. And within 10 minutes I was pissing my pants.
If I didn’t know better and you asked me to do a blind test I would have told you this was a Judd Apatow movie. It follows the true Apatow definition of a rom-com in that it is a) romantic without being overly cheesy and b) is genuinely, laugh out loud funny. I had it up to my eyeballs with romantic comedies that think they have to aim to the lowest common denominator of being melodramatic, slushy nonsense that just tie everything up in a nice bow, usually involving unnatural amounts of driving rain (see every Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy). So it makes me happy that I have seen two rom-coms in the space of a few days in Ted and now Going The Distance that deal with real relationship problems (third wheels; long distance) whilst being foul mouthed and hilarious. In fact everytime it started to shift towards sentimentality it’s like the writers went “dude, what the hell?” then punched itself in the arm, made a dick/cum/blowjob joke and got back on track.
Actually the more I thought about it the more I realised that Ted and Going The Distance shared a lot of similar traits. Both had strong male and female leads who could hold their own. Neither felt wet or like a necessary crutch for others jokes. Both benefited from great supporting casts consisting of comedic actors and actresses who spent their lives developing their sense of comic timing. And both and filthy, dirty senses of humour. The great thing in both circumstances though is for all the dick jokes and references to furious masturbation (Charlie Day is the king of deadpan) it never feels like that’s the whole thing. For instance, The Change Up (Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds 2011) wasn’t very funny. So to compensate it just dialled everything up to 11 with gross out comedy. The skill of a good dick joke is knowing when to put it in and when to pull it out…..ok that pun was entirely accidental. But you get the point.
I’ve done the whole long distance thing and it is hard work. Long nights, late phone calls, constant wondering, unbelievable horniness. So I wanted to be able to sympathise. I wanted this movie to capture the essence of what I experiences. And it delivered. One of the things that I loved about this was a genuine sense of spark and chemistry between the two leads Drew Barrymore and Justin Long(face). The beginning 20 minutes when the story develops their relationship through dating etc you get a sense of two people enjoying each others company and having a real attraction to each other. All the way through I found myself wanting them to work it all out and keep it together. I never normally do that. I’m British. It’s in our DNA to hope for the worst and then say “see, I told you it would all end in misery. More tea?” It was only after a little while I remembered that Barrymore and Long were dating during the making of Going The Distance. It should be mandatory that all romantic leads be in loving relationships before embarking on screen relationships.
Going back to the supporting cast, I love Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis more and more with everything I see them in. Horrible Bosses was funny in patches, generally the patches in which either of them were on screen. Charlie Day essentially plays the little squirrelly loser that he plays in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which if you haven’t seen put this down, go to Netflix and immediately watch the 83 episodes currently available on streaming. It’s the most consistently funny thing on TV right now. Jason Sudekis is just great at riffing, which is unsurprising given his background in SNL. Elsewhere Jim Gaffigan and Christina Applegate play the kind of bitchy middle class couple that could have been lifted straight out of a Judd Apatow script. And Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords) has a brilliant fleeting cameo as a frustrated Pub Quiz hostess.
Something I have noticed about Drew Barrymore movies of late is the great soundtracks. I don’t know if she has any input in to the music used in her movies but I know she is big into her indie and underground bands so wouldn’t surprise me. Worth noting that this movie also used music with impeccable comic timing, none more so than Berlin’s Take My Breath Away.
The only thing that annoyed me, and it’s not specific to this movie, it’s a regular gripe; no one has normal jobs in these things. It’s difficult to feel too bad for people who live seemingly awesome lives in New York and San Francisco working at record labels and at newspapers. Why can no one work at a real job? That was the cool thing about Bridesmaids, they all hated their lives and worked shit jobs with the exception of the antagonist who was rich but you were supposed to hate. A small gripe but and one I doubt is going to change anytime soon.
All in all this was a true surprising gem of a movie. One that I had no expectations of going in and left me laughing out loud on my own. Also has one of my favourite scenes of recent memory which brilliantly explores the awkward semantics of phone sex fantasies. Amazing.
Other Things I Noted
- Jason Sudekis can grow a monumental tache and looks good with it
Conclusion: Highly Recommend
Running Time: 102 mins Release Date: 27 August 2010
Tagline: A comedy about meeting each other halfway
Director: Nanette Burstein – This is the only major thing she has done. Did do great documentary The Kid Stays In The Picture though.
Written By: Geoff LaTulippe – only thing he has written. Would really like to see him do more stuff
Key Cast: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long(face), Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis, Christina Applegate, Kristen Schaal, Ron Livingstone, Jim Gaffigan
Top TV Connections
1. Charlie Day (Charlie Kelly on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) as Dan
2. Rob Riggle (The Daily Show) as Ron
3. Sarah Burns (Krista Jacobs on Enlightened) as Harper
4. Matt Servitto (Brotherhood and The Sopranos) as Hugh
Dan: When I suck my dick, I lie on my back, I throw my legs over my head.
Box: You suck your own dick?
Box: You cut your own hair and you suck your own dick. You’re like a Swiss army knife.
Box: If you’re so worried about your appearance, are you gonna do something about your veiny, white skin? Because right now you look like an actor in a kabuki troupe.
Streaming now on Love Film