The Four Seasons hotel was the site of a rambunctious gathering of the most of the cast and filmmakers of "Going The Distance," the new romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. The film explores the trials and tribulations of a young couple forced into a long distance relationship.
Very much a "recession romance" the couple is forced to be apart by money, circumstances and by both characters desires to work in two fields; print journalism and the record business, that are hardly prospering. This less than fluffy premise is a departure for this usually escapist genre, and although hardly "gritty" the situation and the characters are approached honestly, very much by design.
Producer Adam Shankman expounded "One of the most important things going into this movie that we talked about before it was even cast was the fact that there had to be a lot of honesty, which is why it couldn't be anything but (rated) R. You can't do a good comedy without it coming from something that's very grounded and real at its core."
Director Nanette Burnstein ("American Teen") a documentary director on her first fictional narrative agreed. "I think what we were trying to do tonally is different than the traditional romantic comedy, I mean people are uncensored, there's a real grounded story about feelings and emotion, you really care about these characters. It was always our intention to make it as honest as possible."
Although Barrymore and Long, who dated in the past, and may still be dating, do have chemistry, the characters that make up their emotional support structures are played by talented actors and comedians who elevate these side characters beyond the one dimensional "gay best friend" or "poker buddy" stock rom-com characters.
Drew Barrymore's slightly neurotic sister is played by Christina Applegate. The two women have known each other a long time and it shows on screen. Applegate said "We kind of look at each other and i feel like I know the inside of this lady over here, kind of more than anybody and she kind of knows me on the level that you don't talk about, so being sisters was really easy."
Barrymore added: "I love when people cast siblings that actually could have come from the same womb. We used to be in a dance class together when we were kids, but she looked really good in spandex and I did not."
Applegate smiled and quipped back "So I made a career out of it. "
Justin Long's two best friends "Dan" and "Box" are played by SNL's Jason Sudeikis and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" Charlie Day respectively. The three actors were allowed to riff and improvise which resulted in some very funny, and very natural scenes. Sudeikis verified this: "I would say the movie captures pretty much what it would be like to watch the three of us hang out typically."
Justin Long added that this was not always a good thing "I've never had a harder time keeping a straight face than around these guys."
Charlie Day downplayed their role: "We get to sort of have the most fun in the movie, as far as coming in and being light. We don't have to carry any emotional arc."
To which Sudeikis replied: "Low-stakes, High-larity" getting a good laugh out of the crowd. "That will work in print if you use a hyphen." He helpfully added for the room full of print journalists.
As someone who tends to dislike the run of the mill romantic comedy, I was pleasantly surprised by the comedy and the depth of "Going The Distance." It was a pleasure to see a mature but laid back cast that related to each other as human beings, both off and on screen.
Below are three clips from the film, highlighting the cast and the film's relaxed feel.
"Going The Distance" opens nationwide Friday September 3rd.