Going the Distance

by Melissa Silverstein on September 10, 2010

in Movies,Uncategorized,Women Directors

I am a fan of Drew Barrymore.  I think she is a big talent and for the most part does great work (He’s Just Not That Into You is a memorable misstep), but I have to say I was going to skip her latest, Going the Distance because it looked like another typical comedy made for boys to get them off.

Boy was I wrong.

But I don’t blame myself because as you might already know I spend way too much time reading about movies especially ones directed by women and about women, so the question I have is why did I get the message that this was going to be another Judd Apatowian type flick when it is so much smarter and funnier than any other romantic I have seen in a really long time. And to top it off because it didn’t screen a lot here – in fact I only saw one invite and that was for a middle of the day screening.  I know the big studio movies just do an all media screening which is a mistake for a film like this that needs to build word of mouth.)  So here’s a good movie that gets kind of lost.  Is anyone talking about it?  And I have to say that sucks.

Maybe I wasn’t interested because all the commercials seemed to focus on Justin Long and his merry band of friends?  Since he’s the Mac guy and was in The Hangover (ok, I totally screwed up and he was not in The Hangover– sorry, my bad.  He was in He’s Just Not That Into You and Youth in Revolt).  Maybe the studios think they have a way to reach guys with comedies and can’t figure out how to reach women that they just decide to advertise to the guys?  It’s a romantic comedy about a relationship between a guy and a girl.  So you’d think that they would figure out how to try and get some girls interested in the film.  And don’t forget that Drew Barrymore has top billing.  She’s the fucking star.  She’s been in I don’t know how many movies.  And Justin Long, who was fine in this, is just getting started.  But he was in The Hangover (which I hated) so he’s the shit now.

Oh yeah, did I mention how funny it was?  For the first 30 minutes I was laughing so hard that I actually snorted some diet coke up my nose and had convulsions. (I know TMI)  But that’s how funny it was.  And, I am still thinking about the hysterical Top Gun homage.

Major points to writer Geoff LaTulippe on his debut.  He did a great job with Drew Barrymore’s character Erin.  She was multi-dimensional — raunchy, sexy, smart, insecure, stuck living with her sister while in grad school etc.  She was real and that’s what has been missing from big screen comedies of late — real women.  She didn’t wind up giving up everything for her man even though she would have, and I’m not going to give away the ending but it was let me find the right word for it – satisfying and adult.  Also, major props to doc turned feature director Nanette Burstein.  She did a great job.

Would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the film.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

grrljock September 10, 2010 at 4:30 PM

I’ve read reviews saying that this movie is more/better than the average “rom-com” movies (which, like “chick-lit” is a handy pejorative term to dismiss any women-centered story). I agree that Drew Barrymore is maturing beautifully as an actor and film maker. The whole marketing thing is a systemic fault; boil the movie down to follow a formula (even when it doesn’t) and emphasize the guy (unless the movie has Julia Roberts or Meryl Streep). I think the stupid system just can’t handle marketing of non-formulaic movies. There has to be many more examples, but one I can come up with is “The Family Stone”, where the marketing depicted it as the usual family-holidays-everything-goes-kabloeey comedy, when it was actually more and better than that.
Maybe the lesson here is for Drew Barrymore to do her own marketing. “Whip It” could’ve done with way better (more targeted) marketing as well.

Elizabeth September 10, 2010 at 5:15 PM

“because it looked like another typical comedy made for boys to get them off.”

I haven’t seen the film because what I got out of the trailer was that it was going to be yet another horrific romantic comedy starring Barrymore (a genre I fear is too big already), so this surprised me. Hmm.

Linn D. September 10, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Um… Melissa, Justin Long was not in The Hangover. I think you mean Justin Bartha. J. Long’s biggest movie is probably Live Free or Die Hard with Bruce Willis. I will definitely try and catch this movie now. But I think the studio releasing this film is not one of the Big Dog Studios, thus the reason less money was spent in P&A.

Shawna September 10, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Not to focus on the minor point, but I did double check IMDB, just to make sure I wasn’t going crazy – Justin Long wasn’t in “The Hangover.” His biggest film to date is “Live Free or Die Hard.”

I think the bigger issue here is, why is it being marketed as an Apatow comedy at all — it used to be that romcoms were marketed to women first and then they’d hope that some men would get dragged in on date night. Now women aren’t even getting the marketing for ROMCOMS and they are relying on men to respond to the ads? I don’t know whether this is progress (i.e. not stereotyping women as the traditional consumers of romantic comedies) or another example of ignoring the power of women to drive film attendance.

Either way, it is stupidity at its worst.

Melissa Silverstein September 10, 2010 at 5:33 PM

you are are so good at keeping me honest. Thanks. I fixed up the piece.

Faye September 11, 2010 at 2:53 AM

I really liked it. I went in expecting the typical rom com (barf) and walked out with a bellyache from laughing so much. My prejudice for rom coms and the poor marketing campaign almost kept me from seeing this. It was only because I was given a screening pass did I give it a try and I’m glad I did. It was whole lot smarter and raunchier than I expected.

Ci September 11, 2010 at 6:26 AM

I saw this with a friend and neither of us had high expectations for it, but we were so pleasantly surprised. I’ve grown to loathe romantic comedies because most of them are narrated the exact same way and it often turns into a unrelateable, unromantic snoozefest.

This, however, was a great film! Like you said, it felt real. It didn’t follow the typical formula. It was funny and BOTH characters were likeable, three dimensional and real, so kudos to the writer but also to Barrymore and Long who have terriffic on-screen chemistry. I also liked that it was told from both the male and female perspectives, so both I and my friend (who’s a guy) got a lot out of it.

There’s clearly something wrong with marketing when the only reason I heard of this movie was because happened to walk by Leicester Square when the movie premiered in London. I then looked up the trailer, which totally failed to convey the awesomeness that is this film.

I feel a little bad for Drew Barrymore. Both Whip It! and this one seems to be box office failiures. I hope that doesn’t mean she’ll stop making these kinds of movies.

CParis September 11, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Based on the trailers I’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t imagine any reason to pay $11 to see this film. It looks like the plot of any one of a dozen Lifetime TV movies (and I get those for “free”). The clip of Barrymore’s character eating something (pizza, ribs, soup) and she doesn’t realize she has food smeared all over her face like a 2 year-old was really off-putting.

It’s unfortunate that if this movie is actually pretty good, many of the target audience (women and men over 21) are probably completely turned off by the purile marketing campaign.

Sylvia September 12, 2010 at 1:54 AM

I’ve been meaning to see this movie since it opened a couple weeks ago, but deadlines and other commitments made it that much more difficult to make a priority. But upon reading Melissa’s review, I decided to just do it. And am I glad I did! Like Mel, the first thirty — no make that the first hour had me in stitches. Great writing!! Let me say that again — great writing!

For me, the film harkens back to the 70s, where movies were movies — real and unvarnished. No gimmicks, no crazy, unnecessary special FX, no gratuitous female nudity. In fact, it was great to see Long objectified. Nice butt!

With all that wonderful on and offscreen chemistry, Barrymore and Long could be the new Hepburn and Tracy. Imagine seeing these two professionally in the next decade as they and their respective talents mature. Count me in for the next pairing.

And yes, to mirror everyone else’s negative review of the studio’s marketing efforts, it was abysmal. I too didn’t have much hope for it considering the infantile trailers, but honestly, I’m a fan of both Barrymore and Long, so I was going anyway.

Still thinking about the film — just saw it less than two hours ago, and I’m still smiling. Can’t wait to buy the DVD.

Allison September 13, 2010 at 10:43 PM

There really was something refreshing where the female lead kept all her clothes on while the male lead bares all (Long even did a full frontal scene that got cut).

It wasn’t a great movie, but it was a lot better than the crap that passes for romantic comedy nowadays.

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