Judge Clark Douglas is formulaic and predictable.
A comedy about meeting each other halfway.
Garrett: "I'm not going to order anything, but I have a tip for
Facts of the Case
Garrett (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard) and Erin (Drew Barrymore, Fever Pitch) meet in a bar one night. They have an exceptionally pleasant evening together. The next morning, Erin informs Garrett that she's working as an intern at a local New York newspaper, but that she'll have to head back to California in just a few weeks. The two agree that they'll have some fun together while she's still in town and then amicably part ways. Alas, when the time comes for Erin to take off, the relationship has turned into something special. Garrett suggests that they try a long-distance relationship; Erin agrees that what they have is worth some extra effort. Will these two lovebirds be able to survive the unique challenges of keeping romance alive from a very long distance?
Going the Distance is a romantic comedy starring Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, which is pretty much all you need to know about the movie. The two leads play the sort of characters they can play in their sleep and wander through the sort of plot romantic comedy writers churn out in their sleep. It's not a bad film, but it isn't a particularly original one in any way whatsoever. If you like these two actors and are tolerant of this genre's conventions, you'll find it a rather pleasant experience. As someone who doesn't have strong feelings one way or the other about the actors involved, I found it tolerable enough.
Everything begins with a Meet Cute, as is wont to happen in such films. Erin is playing an arcade game when Garrett rudely interrupts her. This happened at a particularly bad time, as Erin was just about to break her all-time high score (which no one, including Erin, has broken in quite some time). Garrett is awestruck to learn that Erin is the mysterious Arcade Game High Score Champion, and he begs to buy her a drink. This introduction sets up a later scene in which Garrett looks longingly at Erin's initials next to the game scoreboard and reflects on how much he misses his distant lover.
Both main characters are accompanied by a pair of quirky sidekicks, which adds up to four quirky sidekicks overall. This seems about two quirky sidekicks too many, but hey, they didn't ask me. Garrett has Dan (Charlie Day, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Box (Jason Sudeikis, Saturday Night Live). Dan likes to keep the bathroom door open when he takes a dump, while Box sports a cheesy '70s mustache in the hopes of making older women think they're young again. Erin has her sister Corinne (Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?) and brother-in-law Phil (Jim Gaffigan, Away We Go). Corrinne and Phil enjoy dry-humping each other.
Both protagonists also receive a Hot Close Friend inserted for the sole purpose of inspiring jealousy on both sides. Erin has Damon (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Faster), an adoring hunk who loves his mother and has a sensual British accent. Garrett has Brianna (Kelli Garner, Lars and the Real Girl), a perky young redhead who always has a kind word and a piece of good advice. Damon and Brianna are both just a little bit more perfect than our already nearly-perfect protagonists, giving both Garrett and Erin reason to be extra-jealous.
Naturally, we also have the inevitable third-act break-up that precedes the equally inevitable happy ending, but I have to give the film credit for doing a little better than usual in this department. Traditionally, these break-ups are caused by stupid misunderstandings that could have easily been cleared up if only the couple had taken the time to have an actual conversation about what really happened. This time, the break-up comes in a manner that's much more convincing. It comes close to feeling uncontrived, which is high praise indeed in a film like this.
The film is rated R, which would be fine if the film didn't feel so PG-13 most of the time. The R-rated elements are often jarring in contrast to the film's cutesy plotting and performances, so lines that might have felt natural in an Apatow flick come across as unnecessarily crass in this film. Unfortunately, it's a problem the film never really finds a way to overcome. Even if you're the sort of viewer for whom no joke is too tasteless, the contrast is awkward.
I also found the 1080p/2.35:1 transfer fairly disappointing, lacking the sort of visual razzle-dazzle that most new hi-def releases offer. The image seems curiously flat much of the time, and black crush is a significant issue during darker scenes. It's hardly a crappy transfer (and it would be applauded if the film were, say, ten years old), but it just lacks the exceptional detail and depth I was expecting. Audio is fine, with a disappointingly conventional rom-com score from Mychael Danna blending nicely with the dialogue and moderate sound design. Some concert and party sequences are rather lively, but otherwise this is a pretty muted track.
Supplements include a commentary with director Nanette Burstein, three short featurettes entitled "How to Have the Perfect Date" (8 minutes), "A Guide to Long Distance Dating" (8 minutes) and "The Cast of Going the Distance: Off the Cuff" (4 minutes), some deleted scenes, a music video featuring The Boxer Rebellion and a promo for the film's soundtrack. Only the commentary offers some genuine substance; everything else is entirely skippable. It's also worth noting that everything other than the deleted scenes is exclusive to the Blu-ray version of the film. You also get a DVD and a digital copy.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This is a nice movie filled with nice people who are (mostly) nice to each other. If lightweight warm fuzzies are what you seek, this film delivers them in refreshingly straightforward fashion.
I wouldn't go to any extra effort to indulge in a relationship with Going the Distance, but it's a harmless formula flick.
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