Going the Distance

Drew Barrymore & Justin Long in Going the Distance

{Going the Distance opened Friday, September 3 in Seattle and is playing at The Metro, Thornton Place and AMC Pacific Place cinemas}

Nanette Bernstein’s (American Teen & The Kid Stays in the Picture) first non-documentary feature, Going the Distance, could have easily been a disaster (as most romantic comedies are), but there’s something about the realness of the two main characters that makes it all work.

Would-be journalist Erin (Drew Barrymore) and hip record label employee Garrett (Justin Long) meet at a bar in New York, and agree after a fun night together that they’ll continue to date, despite Erin’s caveat that she’s leaving in six weeks to finish school back in San Francisco, and Garret’s “just-got-out-of-a-relationship-last-night” jitters.

Of course, those six weeks are ultimately fabulous and they fall in love (DUH), deciding to embark on a long-distance relationship to see what happens. The question is, will the miles between them make them grow apart? Or closer together?

Pretty standard stuff – but this movie makes some surprisingly real choices, instead of going for an easy over-the-top resolution. The script actually tries to examine how HARD it is to be that far apart, and how even if you’re incredibly in love with someone, in the end it just may not be enough. And shocker: it does a pretty amazing job of doing that, even amidst a lot rated R raunchiness and a plethora of F words.

Strengthening the story are a cast of great supporting characters including the always lovely Christina Applegate as Erin’s embittered sister, and my favorite: Charlie Day as Garret’s hilarious roommate, Dan. Also awesome: a cameo by Ron Livingston as Garret’s boss, which would have caused me to blow soda out my nose if I’d been drinking one (“Jesus Jones? HOW OLD ARE YOU?”).

Throw in some sweet 80s references, like Erin’s obsession with playing Centipede and Garret’s Top Gun poster (“The greatest movie of all time!”) – and some even sweeter romantic gestures, and you’ve won a little bit of my swayed-by-teen-nostalgia heart.

Sure, some of the jokes made me twitch just a little bit, both because of their repetitiveness, and because they just weren’t all that funny- but overall, this is a solidly decent watch. And let’s be honest: any flaws the film has are over shadowed by the sheer adorableness of the two leads. I mean, seriously, who can resist a pairing of the sweetheart from E.T. and the Mac guy?

I know I can’t…which is why you’ll probably see the DVD in my movie collection after it’s released, right alongside Fever Pitch.