Anyone who’s ever been part of the long distance relationship
thing will know what it’s like; waiting weeks to see your loved one only
for those few moments to be over in what feels like seconds. With real
life couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long the protagonists in Nanette
Burstein’s debut feature film, the added chemistry sizzles at times on
screen, even if the fizz runs out before we’ve gone the distance.
When wannabe journalist, student Erin (Barrymore) meets Justin Long‘s
record-label A&R man Garrett sparks fly and the two begin a fling,
knowing all the while she’ll be jetting back off to San Francisco to
finish her studies six weeks later. However when things get serious the
pair decide to ‘go long distance’ and struggle with the difficulties
such a relationship entails.
Cue gross-out moments involving hasty sex on the dining room table
and the ensuing dinner party, awkward phone sex fantasies and fending
off possible advances from other quarters while the cat’s away. The
set-up might be enticing and slightly unusual (not since Sleepless in Seattle have an on-screen pair spent so much on-screen time apart) however this rom-com offers little you won’t find elsewhere.
Garrett has the usual array of quirky man friends (one even likes to
visit the toilet in full view of guests) while Erin’s over-protective
sister (Christina Applegate in feisty form) is fun in a limited
role. Other good ideas such as an uncomfortable dinner scene in which
Garrett’s married male compatriots pour scorn on his romantic ways could
have also been developed as the movie progresses.
Barrymore and Long certainly share enough chemistry together
to suggest a more focused script might have made better use of their
cutesy charm. His scenes with his over-friendly pals often recall
Chandler, Joey and Ross’ Friends musings as the trio try to help Garrett
through the tough moments along the way.
Showcasing Burstein‘s naturalistic tendencies (gleaned from
her documentary background) in scenes involving first dates by roadside
restaurants and sweaty gigs, the film makes good use of it’s New York
and San Francisco locations. Support from Charlie Day as Dan and Kristen Schaal as a highly-strung pub quizmaster create most of the laughs as the pair eventually find a resolution or two.
So it’s a slight shame that a more alternative ending is hinted at but overlooked in favour of the traditional. You might leave with a warm smile on your face but you’ll think that perhaps there was more mileage in this left to run.