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Movie Review

Going the Distance also known as “Salvando las distancias,” “Amor à Distância,” “Amore a … 1000 miglia,” “Apo makria kai agapimenoi!,” “Hétmérföldes szerelem,” “Kaukorakkautta,” “Trop loin pour toi,” “Verrückt nach Dir”

MPAA Rating: R for sexual content including dialogue, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity.

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Comedy
1 hr. 37 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 3, 2010
DVD: November 30, 2010
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures



Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

My boyfriend wants to have sex. I don’t want to lose him. What should I do? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Drew Barrymore (Erin), Justin Long (Garrett), Charlie Day (Dan), Jason Sudeikis (Box), Christina Applegate (Corinne), Ron Livingston (Will), more »
Director: Nanette Burstein
Producer: New Line Cinema, Offspring Entertainment, Jennifer Gibgot, Garrett Grant, Adam Shankman
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“A comedy about meeting each other halfway.”

In 1896, The Edison company startled audiences with a 47 second film in which its screen stars, May Irwin and John Rice, passionately kiss for the duration of the short film. The film appropriately enough was simply called “The Kiss”, it was one of the first pieces of celluloid running through a projector that would eventually lead to what we now know today as motion pictures. It was also the film that would launch a whole genre of motion pictures called romantic-comedies, or rom-com’s.

More than 100 years later this particular hybrid of romance and comedy has become one of the most popular and successful movie genres in the entertainment industry. Each year at least of handful of rom-coms grace the silver screen, “Going The Distance” is the latest and just like its 47 second forerunner, many who choose to see this rom-com (particularly Christians who rely on this particular site to inform their entertainment choices) will find themselves having similar reactions to those penned by a critic of “The Kiss” who wrote, “the spectacle of the prolonged pasturing on each other’s lips… magnified to gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over (is) absolutely disgusting.”

“Going the Distance” stars Justin Long as Garrett, a talent scout for a New York record label, who has just broken up with his girl friend on her birthday because of his inadequate communication skills. He goes out to commiserate with his drinking buddies and meets Erin (Drew Barrymore) and finds that they have many similar interests. Erin is in New York for a summer internship and has ambitions to be a reporter for the New York Sentinel. They both realize there is chemistry between them, but both understand that it would be disadvantageous for them to commit to a serious relationship, since Garrett is trying to mend a broken heart and Erin is heading back to San Francisco in a matter of weeks.

In those intervening weeks both Garrett and Erin realize that there is more to this relationship than either had planned and that this ‘summer fling’ might actually be the real thing. So against their better judgment as well as the advice of Garrett’s friends and Erin’s sister Corrine (Christina Applegate) they decide to test their relationship against the 3,000 miles that separates them.

Besides the distance that separates the two, there is also the obstacle of each trying to find success and fulfillment in their respective careers, both of which have them locked in their current state. The relationship hinges upon the question as to which of them is willing to sacrifice their career for a chance to make this relationship work.

For fans of romantic comedies, there is some fresh material about maintaining a romance against all odds and there is genuine chemistry between Long and Barrymoore (who are a real item off screen as well). The true test of a romantic-comedy, however, comes with the second half of that hyphenated category, is the film funny? Well, to help ensure the film’s humor the cast consists of just about every stand-up comedian who has had a special on Comedy Central. With this cast of comedians surrounding Barrymoore and Long there are some truly funny moments, however much of the comedy is of a sexual nature or just plain crude.

It is the comedic aspect of this love story that many viewers will probably find the most objectionable. The story centers around the distance of separation that this couple faces, and since only moments after their first encounter they end up in bed together, their sexual appetites are one of the key challenges they have to deal with. In their phone conversations they talk intimately about how much they “need” each other, and how they can help each other resolve this sexual frustration by engaging in intimate conversations over the phone. There is a scene where Erin and Garrett engage in phone sex in very sexually suggestive language. While they are talking, they both act upon the conversation by means of personal gratification.

Let me make this perfectly clear, the film is rated “R” and lives up to every ounce of that rating. There is pervasive profanity throughout the movie including the “f-word” used on multiple occasions seemingly by every character except Erin’s ten year old niece. Erin’s sister Corrine (Applegate) seems incapable of uttering a simple sentence without using the “f-word” as a colorful adverb. There are also a couple uses of your other garden variety curse words and the ever present “g.d.” is uttered on a few occasions.

In addition to the “self-gratification” scene described above there are multiple sex scenes between Garrett and Erin (who Christian audiences will quickly note are not married and therefore should not be engaging in the sexual activity they freely engage in—there is also a ‘fully clothed sex scene between a ‘married couple’) that are very suggestive including a scene on a table top where the two engage in sex and the consequences of that act become a running joke about bodily fluids throughout the rest of the film, in this scene Garrett’s bottom is clearly seen. Think of the ‘hair gel’ scene in “There’s Something About Mary,” and you’ll get the gist of the scene, as well as the particular brand of humor this movie is aiming for. In addition there is a scene where Garrett is completely naked while getting an artificial sun tan, during the scene his private areas are covered by his hands.

On the morality scale of romantic-comedies if one put more tamer fare such as “When Harry Met Sally” (with it’s now classic delicatessen—“I’ll have what she’s having” scene) on one side of the spectrum and “There’s Something About Mary” or “Knocked Up” on the other, than “Going the Distance” would definitely fall closer, if not surpassing, in the spectrum to the latter two which combined romantic-comedy with elements of “gross-out” humor.

Which gets to the point of this particular film, there are parts to this movie that are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and if you enjoy your comedy in the more of the “gross-out” variety, you will no doubt be entertained by this latest installment. However, if that type of humor is not to your liking, then you will probably find yourself with a similar opinion of the aforementioned film critic who reviewed “The Kiss” in 1896 and find “Going the Distance” to be “absolutely disgusting.”

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—In “Going the Distance,” Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) embark on a long-distance relationship, after a six-week fling in New York City. Erin returns to graduate school in San Francisco, while Garrett continues working at a music label in NYC.

The movie opens with the break-up of Garrett and his pre-Erin-girlfriend (played by Leighton Meester) in a clichéd, but hilarious girl-says-one-thing-but-means-the-opposite scenario. From the start, it’s obvious that writer Geoff LaTulippe has a gift for what I call “character comedy”. His writing is not based on physical or slapstick humor, but mainly around personality quirks and situational comedy. LaTulippe has crafted superb characters that are honest and relatable, but still quirky enough to draw the laughs.

When Erin’s Type-A sister (played by Christina Applegate) feverishly cleans her kitchen after suspected contamination, it reminds you of your mom or favorite aunt, instead of your weird neighbor with the plasticized furniture. Additionally, the actors seem genuinely comfortable with each other and their roles. They neither over—nor under-act, and it’s refreshing to watch talented actors work with a (pretty) good script.

Unfortunately, this movie, like so many others, focuses on the sexual aspects of the relationship. Erin and Garrett meet at a bar and go home together the same night. Sexual jokes abound. Multiple sexual acts are shown, including an explicit attempt at phone sex. This movie is rated R for more than just the language. And while I do know what it’s like to live in New York City and San Francisco and can vouch for the street-authenticity of the language and dialogue found in this movie, I assert that the excessive use of cuss words and sexual banter is a desperate grasp at ratings. It detracts more than it adds to the overall story and is an unnecessary interloper in what could have been a wonderful movie.

Furthermore, I am aware that most romantic relationships (both Christian and secular) revolve around the act of sex or the hope of sex, but when exactly did it become socially acceptable to watch people have sex? Or watch people start to have sex? Or watch the implication of people having sex? It confounds me. If we were to participate in this kind of voyeurism in real life, we would either be thrown in jail or labeled a pervert. If we were to perform sexual acts (with the usual exception of kissing) in public, in most of the civilized world, we would be arrested. When did it become normal to sit in a room with a group of strangers and watch sexual acts? Maybe we watch out of curiosity or comparison or desire, but how are any of those reasons justified, for a Christian or a culture, as healthy?

As far as spiritual content, there is none, but there are a few moral principles touched upon. Erin and Garrett discuss contentment versus happiness, the importance of marrying your best friend, and the need for both individuals to be active in decisions that affect the couple. At one point, in an emotional blackmail attempt, Garrett tries to leave a major decision entirely up to Erin. He soon realizes the unfairness of his withdrawal, apologizes, and rejoins the decision-making process. Additionally, it was encouraging that both Erin and Garrett remained faithful to each other. Temptation and jealousy reared their ugly heads, but were not indulged.

In conclusion, “Going the Distance” is a film about relationships. Erin and Garrett do not live their lives in a bubble. Erin’s loving, protective sister and Garrett’s two goofy friends are supportive and quick to give (surprisingly) wise advice. These relationships are communicative and uplifting, while at the same time being very, very normal. The writer and director have subtly positioned these relationships as something to strive for without putting them on an unreachable pedestal. In that sense, the movie was quite refreshing. But this movie didn’t need the R-rated content. Some movies do. Some movies don’t have a solid foundation in story or character development and must rely on base humor and unimaginative language. “Going the Distance” had a great foundation with great characters and funny content and didn’t need to travel with the lazy, low-brow bandwagon. I can see what writer Geoff LaTulippe and director Nanette Burstein are capable of, and I hope the day comes when they create their art without the mud.

Violence: None / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Samantha Fagan, adult (USA)