Going the Distance

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -4

Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Ron Livingston, Jim Gaffigan, Kelli Garner, Rob Riggle, Christina Applegate. Romantic Comedy. Written by Geoff LaTulippe. Directed by Nanette Burstein.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Erin’s (Drew Barrymore) wry wit and unfiltered frankness charm newly single Garrett (Justin Long) over beer, bar trivia and breakfast the next morning. Their chemistry sparks a full-fledged summer fling, but neither expects it to last once Erin heads home to San Francisco and Garrett stays behind for his job in New York City. But when six weeks of romping through the city inadvertently become meaningful, neither is sure they want it to end. And while Garrett’s friends, Box (Jason Sudeikis) and Dan (Charlie Day), joke about his pre-flight calorie cutting and his full-time relationship with his cell phone, they don’t like losing their best drinking buddy to yet another rocky romance. At the same time, Erin’s high-strung, overprotective married sister, Corrine (Christina Applegate), wants to keep Erin from heading down an all-too-familiar road. But despite the opposite coasts, the nay-saying friends and family, and a few unexpected temptations, the couple just might have found something like love, and with the help of a lot of texting, sexting and late-night phone calls, they might actually go the distance.

PREVIEW REVIEW: On the way home from this screening, I had a CD on and the theme from To Kill A Mockingbird played. (It’s a beautiful score from that film, by the way.) Mockingbird takes place in the 1930s and I wondered about how much of the obscene buffoonery found in Going the Distance would have been accepted by moviegoers from that era before they burnt down the theater. For that matter, would 1962 audiences, when the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird came out, have tolerated such offensive material? The answer is no and I’m not sure how today’s filmgoers can call this trend progress.

I’m bewildered and certainly depressed at what passes for “sophisticated” entertainment these days. I might have expected such goings-on in a film called Porky’s or American Pie, films aimed at a demographic who enjoy movie stars talking and behaving in ways their parents said they shouldn’t in public. But I’m confounded that a romantic comedy from a major studio, with a major star, can contain one offensive statement or activity after another.

Here Drew Barrymore proves she’s all about converting the throng into acceptance of foul and profane language, casual sex, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, and other forms of activity that go against conventional propriety or taste. Artists have always struggled with rules, somehow thinking that “anything goes” is the way to go. They never seem to question if the deadening of our senses really benefits the culture.

The film has the leads, and everyone else, using obscenity and profanity in nearly every conversation, and the humor relies mostly on shock value, everything from the portrayal of masturbation to using the toilet. (An uneasy laughter arose from audience members when the crude sidekick started unrolling the toilet tissue before finally closing the bathroom door. I speculated after that scene just how much longer it will be before filmmakers actually feature an actor taking a bowel movement.)

The leads are likable and share a chemistry, the story is relevant due to the growth of long-distance relationships in this age, but the film is a bit long and overloaded with some of the most vulgar antics I can remember seeing, including the couple having a sexual encounter on a dining room table, with another couple accidently walking in on the act, the other lady spending much of the next scene cleaning the table.

Sorry for the imagery, but I wanted you to understand why this “romantic comedy” depressed me. While some will no doubt feel I am unable to relate to the sensibilities of younger audiences, if this is what they appreciate from their movies, then I’m glad I don’t.

I’m not prudish, I don’t mind bawdiness when it is clever (Much Ado About Nothing, Thank You For Smoking). But I see our culture being dumbed down and crude’d up, with Hollywood leading the way to a culture devoid of reverence, respect or rules of behavior. I stand back, helpless as I view today’s audiences being cheated by artists unable to form a simple declarative sentence without the inclusion of something profane or obscene. Do these people really talk like that in their own homes?

Heaven forbid I should recommend a DVD alternative like Woman of the Year, a superb Hepburn/ Tracy pairing with Katherine as a political commentator attempting to maintain a career and a marriage with sportswriter Spencer. There’s a manufactured “hipness” associated with today’s film-going demographic, wherein viewers have come to believe that mediocrity and vulgarity are more fun than wit. I suspect it’s been a while since they’ve seen it. They seem to fear an association with art of decades past. Decades past? They don’t want to view films from six weeks ago.

How about a compromise: Ever see my DVD alternative suggestion, What’s Up Doc? Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal star in this always-funny screwball comedy.

It’s okay. You can watch it, kids. It’s in color – and the stars are still alive.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros.

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Crude and vulgar dialogue and situations throughout

Obscene Language: After 60 obscenities, including the f-word, and from every character in the film, I stopped counting.

Profanity: At least 8 profane uses of Christ’s name, and two of God’s, with the expression “Oh my God” used as often as an episode of TV’s Friends.

Violence: No violence, but I felt assaulted by the film’s crudity.

Sex: A few sexual situations, some becoming fairly graphic; a great deal of humor is suffered from sexuality, both in dialogue and situations.

Nudity: Male backside nudity in a couple of scenes.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: In one scene the lead couple use a bong and get stoned; they drink throughout, sometimes relying on alcohol to deal with frustration, other times just to party. Indeed, this is a film for those who like to party at chic nightclubs, or just drink pitchers of beer in their apartments.

Other: None

Running Time: 109 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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