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Going the Distance

Bi-coastal hipster rom-com has some laughs

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Oh, modern love. You finally find the right guy/girl, and then they move 3,000 miles away. But hey, we can make it work, right? Right?

In this cheerfully vulgar romantic comedy from Nanette Burstein (American Teen), our make-it-work couple meet in New York City: Erin (Drew Barrymore) is an aspiring journalist, and Garrett (Justin Long) works at an indie record label. Among the things they share: a love of Centipede, drunken hook-ups, bawdy humor and hipster dream-jobs in dying industries. It's oh-so-much fun, until Erin moves to San Francisco for her (fingers-crossed) career.

Real-life on-again-off-again couple Barrymore and Long make an engaging and believable pair, but the longer the film goes on, the more steam it loses. There's just not a lot of comic potential in cross-country phone calls and text messages. Burstein fills in the holes with some by-the-book piffle as Erin has a bad day at her waitress job, or a mopey Garrett gets a beer with his buds. Excessive pining just doesn't make for a good comedy. Especially when we're pretty sure we know where this story is going ...

I'm not sure Burstein's mash-up of a love story with Apatow-style R-rated riffage completely worked, though there are some good laughs. (This is the rare rom-com where the wacky sidekick friends are a lot less funny than the leads.) But on the plus side, the messy, quick-witted, tomboyish Erin seems like a girl you'd actually know, and more real than the glossy high-heeled Popsicle sticks that usually populate these films. Starts Fri., Sept. 3.

 

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