Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, an off-and-on couple in real life, play a pair of 30-somethings struggling to sustain a bicoastal relationship in “Going the Distance.” It’s a listless romantic comedy that’s not worth going any distance to see.
The film is doomed by its contrived script, cringe-worthy secondary characters and a lethal lack of chemistry between the stars.
Erin (Barrymore) and Garrett (Long) are both on a career treadmill when they meet at a New York bar. She’s a newspaper intern who’s about to return to grad school, while he’s a record-company grunt who courts Jonas Brothers wannabes.
After a night of heavy drinking and bong hits they end up at Garrett’s place, where his annoying roommate Box (Jason Sudeikis) interrupts their bedroom canoodling by blasting music through the paper-thin walls.
Since Erin’s internship ends in six weeks (she’s heading back to Stanford University in California), she and Garrett try to keep their relationship casual. But -- no surprise here -- they fall in love and decide to launch a cross-country affair.
The rest of the film drags you back and forth between coasts. The lovebirds Skype, text and have phone sex that’s about as erotic as a Rosie O’Donnell pinup.
The other characters are even less appealing. Garrett’s boneheaded best friends, Box and Dan (Charlie Day of TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), manage to act idiotic without ever being funny. Erin’s neurotic sister Corinne (Christina Applegate), who hates Garrett, is a germaphobe who orders her kids to act like statues when they get out of line.
Director Nanette Burstein allows the film to drag endlessly, screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe creates characters that are impossible to care about and the actors coast with a half-hearted effort.
“Going the Distance,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: *
‘Prince of Broadway’
“Prince of Broadway” is an endearing film about Lucky (Prince Adu), a Manhattan street hustler whose life is shaken up when former lover Linda (Kat Sanchez) arrives with a baby and tells him he’s the father.
At the time, the illegal West African immigrant is living in a tiny apartment and eking out a living selling knockoff shoes and handbags to tourists. But he seems content. He’s got a sexy girlfriend and a wad of cash he’s saving to get an education.
When Linda drops the nameless baby off with Lucky on a street corner and disappears, he takes the toddler home and explains the house rules as if the infant is an adult, or possibly a dog. Like much of the film, the scene is both tender and funny.
Lucky names the infant Prince, takes him to work and gets some unexpected help from his fellow hustlers. While Sean Baker’s film is crudely shot and edited, the cast of nonprofessional actors is excellent and the sentiment is genuine.
“Prince of Broadway,” from Elephant Eye Films, is playing in New York. Rating: **1/2
‘The Winning Season’
In “The Winning Season,” Sam Rockwell stars as Bill Greaves, a small-town loser charged with turning a group of misfit girls into a champion high-school basketball team. It’s a hoops version of “The Bad News Bears” without nearly as many laughs.
Bill is a single dad, a dishwasher and an alcoholic who downs leftover beers from customers. But given his past success as a boys’ basketball coach, the local high-school principal (Rob Corddry) hires him to reform the girls squad.
When Bill arrives for the first practice, he finds only six players on the court, and one has a broken foot. He’s derisive and the girls are uncooperative. So guess what happens? If you’ve never seen “Rocky” or “The Karate Kid,” you might be surprised. Otherwise, it’s as predictable as summer heat.
Rockwell is fine as the seedy misanthrope, but he’s the only worthwhile part of the movie. Writer/director James C. Strouse follows a paint-by-numbers formula and the abrupt shifts in tone distract from the feel-good moments.
“The Winning Season,” from Lions Gate, is playing in New York and Los Angeles. Rating: *1/2
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Morgan Grice is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are her own.)