Going The Distance is why I love movies so much. Every once in a while one comes along that fills a punch line. Something resonates.
Of course Justin Long’s character hits far too close to home with working at a label and pushing bands you don’t care about and ultimately taking that leap of faith and managing bands that truly move you. While that’s just a mildly interesting plot twist to some, everyone can relate and learn something from their love story.
I loved this story because it seemed so functional, no matter how dysfunctional a long distance relationship can be. That’s what drives me nuts about Hollywood. No Strings Attached was awesomely entertaining but I left the theater pissed. It was more silver screen sap that further perpetuates stereotypes and dilutes real-world relationships.
It wasn’t the “friends with benefits” part in No Strings Attached that I didn’t buy. That can work for a while and be a whole hell of a lot fun in the meantime. However, it was the horrific turning point of Portman’s psyche that nerds hang on to when dealing with their own issues. She made us believe that love conquers all no matter how insensitive, illogical, or un-repairable your situation has become. That those dealing with loss should still hold on to hope that one day your dream girl will be standing on the door step asking for you back, instead of just moving forward with your life.
Going The Distance took the sprinkles and frosting away from Hollywood. It was honest. That’s the biggest praise I can give this film. It carefully demonstrated what it takes to love and make something last- honest communication. Everything in their relationship developed so organically and it was because both parties were secure with who they were, found that they had a significant connection, and weren’t afraid to explore and talk about it. Justin Long could have easily let Drew get on that plane and never tell her how he felt. That doesn’t mean he had a plan, answers, or a solution to her leaving. In the moment, all it meant was that he didn’t want to see her go forever.
The movie also brought to light something that Hollywood also never touches on, friendship. The importance of actually being best friends with someone you love. Sex is great, partying is fun, having the same taste in music helps but to really be able to share the same love of Centipede, Shawshank Redemption, and The Boxer Rebellion while at the same time making each other laugh and seeing the moral significance of Top Gun creates deep and meaningful bonds. Their relationship had substance and substance binds to the heart.
Big shout out to Charlie Day’s performance and character. Not only did he have me laughing in every scene he was in but Drew also embraced him. No matter how immature, odd, retarded, or invasive your homeboys can be, they ultimately mean the world to you and that’s why they’re your friend. Drew handled the friendship between Justin and Charlie perfectly. While she obviously cut into their “guy time” she never became a symbol of resentment and by accepting him for who he was, she was able to become that much closer to Justin. She was genuine throughout the entire film, no ulterior motives. This allowed Justin and Charlie to make room for Drew in their lives and ultimately grow apart on their own terms.
I loved the ending to the movie. They didn’t find a job in the other person’s town or just say “screw it” and give up on their own dreams and career to be with one another. While you can walk away believing everything worked and they lived happily ever after, they still had a long road ahead of them and that wasn’t ignored.
No one was perfect in this movie and that’s what made it so great. Both of them had a past, baggage, goals, and dreams but accepting that and being confident/comfortable with who they are allowed them to share all sides and become vulnerable naturally. I praise the writers and crew for bringing a sense of reality back to greatest story of all time- love.