September 02, 2010 11:19am EST
When the animated opening credits of Warner Bros. Going the Distance begin a barrage of colorful images envelope the screen shaking and shifting to the sounds of contemporary pop-rock like a hipster-chick in a SoHo lounge. It sets the tone for a lighthearted but levelheaded romantic comedy that like the music is cool and crafty but not completely above the clichés of the tried-and-true genre.
Making her feature-film directorial debut Oscar-nominated documentarian Nanette Burstein (On the Ropes) set out to make a film that as she put it “would feel as real as possible” – a tough job when taking on a studio comedy. But with a relatable premise a punchy script and a cast that possesses a ton of personality she succeeds at delivering a surprisingly fresh film that chronicles the pros and cons of a long-distance relationship between Justin Long’s Garrett and Drew Barrymore’s Erin.
The first half hour is filled with the standard situational set-ups and character introductions that one expects from any film. We learn everything we need (and want) to know about Garrett and Erin: He’s a New York record label workhorse and she’s an aspiring journalist interning at a metropolitan newspaper. They frequent the same dive bar in downtown Manhattan and have a beer and barbeque-wings fueled fling which turns into a steady summer-long relationship. But all good things must come to an end and as September approaches she prepares to head back to Stanford for another semester much to their mutual dismay. However the feelings between them are sincere and they decide to give their spatially challenged relationship a shot.
Real-life couple Long and Barrymore have a few touching moments throughout the film mostly when the trials of their long-distance relationship take a toll but they are a bore in comparison to the supporting cast. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day bring frat-house etiquette and bro-mantic charm to the movie as Garrett’s best friends Box and Dan. Together they are the living embodiment of testosterone and man-child — archetypes that have become all-too common in current rom-coms — but with legitimately funny performances they really pay off. Christina Applegate is good for a load of laughs as Erin’s older sister Corinne who is skeptical of Erin’s eagerness to engage in yet another risky romance; she steals the show with her unrelenting commentary.
Going the Distance doesn’t break new ground within the genre or redefine cinematic romance but it balances the sweet and sour moments of its story very well. Burstein minimizes the drama and keeps the comedy raw to maximize the entertainment value of the movie which should please all who purchase a ticket. Somehow the long distance dilemma hasn’t been tackled on film before and that makes the movie appear to be more original that it really is but in a year where so few romantic comedies have brought the goods (The Back-Up Plan Sex and the City 2) Going the Distance does just that.
Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are lifelong best friends obsessed with getting married -- and more importantly having the perfect wedding at New York’s Plaza Hotel. Except there’s a glitch: Their June weddings get scheduled for the same Saturday and no other date is available for three years! When neither agrees to move to a different venue the battle is on. And the pranks: There’s Emma’s disastrous trip to a tanning salon where her skin becomes solid orange and Liv’s appointment at a beauty salon where her blonde locks are turned mysteriously blue.
Adding this to her recent list of dumb comedies like My Best Friend's Girl and Fool's Gold Hudson is in need of a serious career intervention. Her character here a supposedly smart lawyer who will sink to ANY depths to get married and have a dream wedding just doesn’t mesh. It’s SO 50 years ago that feminists watching these two engage in a knock-down drag-out fight over a hotel ballroom will recoil in horror. And after all that acclaim for Rachel Getting Married Hathaway should just find a place to hide – though to be fair in one or two scenes she does manage to find a shred of believability. Too bad it’s not nearly enough. Although it starts out with a bit of promise director Gary Winick clearly just sat back as the proceedings spun out of control with one ridiculous scene after another. Of course he isn’t given much help by Greg DePaul CaseyWilson and June Diane Raphael’s waaaaaaay over-the-top screenplay which reduces these two apparent friends into babbling morons. Those interested in witnessing two women demean themselves for 90 minutes should have a lot of fun.
Top Story: Aniston and Lopez Battle for Best Bottom
In a cheek-to-cheek race, Americans who responded to the Web site eDiets.com's questionnaire on celebrity derrieres chose actress Jennifer Aniston's posterior (46.5 percent) over actress/singer Jennifer Lopez's (45.2 percent). "It seems while both Jennifers have different shapes, they almost equally appealed to the masses," said Raphael Calzadilla, fitness expert for eDiets.com and eFitness.com, in a statement. Oprah Winfrey came in third with 7.1 percent while Calista Flockhart came in fourth at 1 percent. Now, that's a wide group.
Ruben Paid to Wear Trademark Jerseys
In response to a lawsuit filed by American Idol star Ruben Studdard, who claims the owners of clothing company 205 Flava Inc. wrongfully used his image for profit, Willie and Frederick Jenkins say they paid Studdard to wear the 205's bright jerseys on the show, despite it being against the reality program's policy, The Associated Press reports. Willie Jenkins had told The Birmingham News about the payments in a June interview. "When he wore the clothing, we paid him." Studdard refused comment Monday. "The public will hear from us soon," Studdard's lawyer, Byron Perkins, told AP.
Ebert To Undergo Cancer Treatment
Longtime movie critic Roger Ebert is set to undergo radiation treatment for cancer of his thyroid and salivary gland, AP reports. The 61-year-old had surgery twice in February 2002 to remove tumors in his thyroid. "I will, however, continue to see movies, write reviews and do the Ebert & Roeper television show," AP reports Ebert wrote in an e-mail message to friends on Tuesday. "The treatments are a follow-up to earlier surgery, and I look forward to a complete recovery; this is not considered to be a life-threatening form of cancer…P.S. By the way, my thyroid cancer has been completely vanquished," he wrote.
Raquel Welch Separates From Husband
Film siren Raquel Welch and her fourth husband, restaurateur Richard Palmer, have agreed to separate, Reuters reports. "Raquel Welch and her husband Richie Palmer have agreed to separate after four years of marriage," spokeswoman Jill Bushinsky said in a statement. "Neither has any further comment at this time except to say that there is no third party involved and the separation is amicable."
Flynt Sued for Sexual Harassment
Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee, Elizabeth Rene Raymond, who claimed she found sex toys in the company's dishwasher that were "used on the prostitutes who visited [Flynt's] office," Reuters reports. Raymond, who also said Flynt fostered a hostile working environment, was dismissed from her job shortly after complaining to her supervisors.
Former "Hollywood Madam" Breaks Down in Court
Heidi Fleiss sobbed on the witness stand Tuesday while giving her testimony against former fiancé Tom Sizemore, Reuters reports. Fleiss claimed Sizemore hit her, stubbed a cigarette out on her and verbally abused her during their turbulent year-long relationship. The Black Hawk Down star is on trial on 16 charges of domestic violence, threats, witness intimidation, property destruction, and obscene and harassing phone calls. "Tom Sizemore is innocent," Sizemore's attorney said in court. "Heidi Fleiss is a liar."
CNN Anchor Penalized for Leaving Accident
CNN anchor Jack Cafferty was fined $250 and must perform 70 hours of community service after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, AP reports. Cafferty was charged with a traffic infraction, along with misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, assault and harassment, after police said he knocked a man off a bike in New York on May 14 and then fled the scene. The bicyclist suffered minor injuries.
Lynyrd Skynrd Forced To Cancel Tour
Rock band Lynyrd Skynrd had to cancel the remainder of their current tour with Sammy Hagar when lead singer Gary Rossington suffered a minor seizure due to exhaustion over the weekend, Reuters reports. The singer had underwent open-heart surgery several months before. Despite Rossington's illness, the band plans to return to the road Aug. 23 to begin their own Vicious Cycle tour in Omaha, Neb.
Role Call: Golly Gee, Ali G!
Sacha Baron Cohen of HBO's Da Ali G Show is set to star in a remake of the French film Le Diner de Cons (The Idiot Game). Variety reports the film, retitled Dinner for Schmucks, will highlight Cohen as a character deemed to possess such "extraordinary schmuckiness" that he is capable of ruining the life of anyone who spends more than a few minutes in his orbit.
New York City detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) teams up with Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) to investigate five bizarre deaths. Before long they discover that all the victims died exactly 48 hours after visiting the Web site feardotcom.com. The site itself looks amateurish with rapid-fire images of a strange doorway screaming faces torture tools and indiscernible grainy objects. Users log on to watch a twisted doctor perform autopsies on people--while they're still alive torturing his victims until they beg to be killed. The voyeurs must then interact with a mysterious woman who asks things like "Do you want to hurt me?" She challenges users to find her within two days--or die. Those who don't find her end up suffering whatever gruesome fate they fear most and--this is the best bit--it's brought on by some sort of evil force generated through the computer. Of course curiosity gets the better of them and Mike and Terry log on to the site only to find themselves embroiled in a supernatural violent fight for their lives. If this explanation made sense that's more than we can say for the plot of feardotcom.
Dorff is well cast as Mike Reilly a brash young city police detective whose curious nature gets him into trouble. But the character is too simplistic and underdeveloped to give Dorff much to do. Although we get a little more insight into McElhone's character Terry (we know she has a cat name Benny for example) there isn't much to like or dislike about her. Dorff and McElhone's characters strike up a sort of friendship as the film progresses but there isn't much chemistry between the actors. A couple of the creepier roles in the film are much more entertaining to watch especially Stephen Rea and Michael Sarrazin. Rea plays Alistair Pratt the twisted doctor whose torture victims provide feardotcom.com's "entertainment " while Sarrazin plays Frank Sykes a drunk and washed-up author. It's a shame these two didn't have more screen time.
Director William Malone explains in the production notes for the film that feardotcom offers both a scientific and spiritual explanation for what happens in the film and that it is ultimately up to moviegoers to decide which school of thought they subscribe to. But the film's storyline is so convoluted and contradictory that it's difficult to figure out what question the film is asking let alone find the answer. Even if nothing about the story--or the philosophical questions it purports to ask--makes sense the intense look of the film is enough to keep you watching. Malone bathes the film in murky blue tones and sunlight never even trickles in. Offices are dimly lit and apartments are always dank and dilapidated. It rains day and night. The weird flashes of images presented in this setting are graphic and disturbing making feardotcom a film for the strong of heart--and stomach.