GOING THE DISTANCE:

I remember a time when romantic comedies were romantic and funny. Nearly all of them were peopled by supporting characters with plenty of advice for the lovelorn that alternated between being either insightful or ill advised. All of those ingredients are present but none of them hit their target in this formulaic, by-the-numbers effort which wants so badly to be an old-fashioned “rom-com” that it even has the lovers (Drew Barrymore, Justin Long) hooking up at an Atari Centipede videogame. Part of the problem is that Barrymore (See sidebar below.) is so much older than Long (DRAG ME TO HELL) that the match seems ill-suited and unable to withstand the trials and tribulations of the coast-to-coast relationship of the main plot. As a result, no real chemistry exists between the pair and at 31 years of age, Barrymore’s character should have figured out already that long-distance relationships never work. Its predictability is another reason this movie doesn’t work. When Long’s record label executive wistfully talks about managing independent bands, you automatically know what career move he’ll have made by the end of the movie. Most of the secondary characters are contrived caricatures, especially Barrymore’s “clean freak” sister (Christina Applegate) who squeezes out what laughs she can from Geoff LaTulippe’s screenplay. This is the sort of movie you forget about two minutes after leaving the multiplex since the main characters make you feel about as neutral about them as Switzerland during a world war. They should have saved their frequent flier miles and you should save yourself the effort of seeing this film. CRITIC’S GRADE: C

MUCH BETTER MOVIES STARRING DREW BARRYMORE: E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982), IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES (1984), GUNCRAZY (1992), BOYS ON THE SIDE (1995), BATMAN FOREVER (1995), SCREAM (1996), EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU (1996), THE WEDDING SINGER (1998), EVER AFTER (1998), CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002), FEVER PITCH (2005), HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (2009), WHIP IT (2009)*

*Also directed the movie