x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Going The Distance: a weak romance and an even damper comedy

Hollywood's evergreen girl-next-door Drew Barrymore delivers her latest romantic comedy, a painfully soulless affair that even her die-hard fans will find hard to defend.

Barrymore's latest lacks chemistry.
Barrymore's latest lacks chemistry.

Going The Distance Director: Nanette Burstein Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate ** Hollywood's evergreen girl-next-door Drew Barrymore delivers her latest romantic comedy, a painfully soulless affair that even her die-hard fans will find hard to defend. Reuniting with Justin Long, her co-star in He's Just Not That Into You and on-off boyfriend in real life, Barrymore plays Erin, a 31 year-old student interning for six weeks at a New York newspaper. When she meets and falls for Garrett (Long), a lowly record company A&R man, a long-distance relationship beckons, what with Erin due back at college in San Francisco, where she lives with her highly strung sister (Applegate). Cue cute couple struggling to cope with separation, passing the months with the occasional fleeting visit. And therein lies the film's problem: with the characters kept apart for much of the film, Barrymore and Long are afforded little time to establish any screen chemistry, making it awfully hard to care whether these two will make it or not. While the romance doesn't burn, the comedy is also a damp squib, the script relying on gross-out humour (courtesy of Garrett's friends) and lazy pop-culture references (he likes Top Gun) to pep it up. There's the odd moment of levity - such as Long's encounter with a tanning bed - but these are about as far apart as our two lovebirds. The former documentary director Nanette Burstein, making her feature debut, follows rom-com convention as if it were a mathematical equation. But, despite what the title says, Going the Distance runs out of puff long before the finishing line.

* James Mottram