September 3, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Going the Distance' -- GRADE: B

Review: Lusty-crusty 'Going the Distance' pushes the rom-com envelope

Tom Long reviews 'Going the Distance'
Tom Long reviews 'Going the Distance': Real life couple, Justin Long and Drew Barrymore star in a rauncy romantic comdey

'Going the Distance" sounds so clean on the surface.

Boy meets girl, they fall in love, but they live on different coasts. Can they keep a long-distance romance alive?

And it stars the real life double-cute on again-off again couple Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. That adorable girl from "E.T." and the casual Apple guy. Awww. How sweet.

Yeah, but then you see the movie. And a rain of raunch begins and never stops, right up to the very end.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, understand. In fact, the film's constant raunch factor balances out its romantic center in a way that will likely surprise and please many.

It's like "The Hangover" meets "Letters to Juliet." And it works, assuming you can take toilet jokes, bong hits, in-flagrante exposures and sex chatter on top of your basic love story.

In fact, this may be the beginning of a trend: the first raunchy romance -- soon to be followed by raunchy spy thrillers, raunchy war movies, raunchy westerns, raunchy space sagas and raunchy mysteries. Somebody's sure to try a raunchy blockbuster with giant robots.

Hey, why not? Would it be that much worse than what we've got now?

Not if "Going the Distance" is any indication. Directed by Nanette Burstein from a script by first-timer Geoff La Tulippe (can that be a real name?), the film does indeed capitalize on the easy chemistry between its leads while exploring a real-life conundrum many have faced (likely including those leads).

Barrymore plays Erin, a late-in-life grad student studying journalism at Stanford in California; but she's doing an internship at a New York City paper when she meets Garrett (Long) at a bar.

Garrett is working at a record label, promoting bands he doesn't believe in. It's notable and wise that each character is involved in an industry -- journalism and the music business -- in turmoil. Such is modern life.

They fall in love without trying, but in a few scant weeks Erin has to return to California. There are no jobs for her in New York; no jobs for him out West. Will love keep them together even as they're far apart?

The raunch comes into the mix thanks to a Greek chorus on either coast. In New York, it's Garrett's infantile friends Dan (Charlie Day, breaking out) and Box (Jason Sudeikis).

In California, Erin is protected by her older sister Corinne (the impeccable Christina Applegate) and her husband, Phil (Jim Gaffigan).

As Erin and Garrett grapple with their relationship, the surrounding characters toss out graphic one-liners that would make a sailor faint.

They should also make an audience laugh, assuming that audience isn't expecting a dewy-eyed, upbeat, spring-scented romance.

The sheer audacity of "Going the Distance" makes it noteworthy, while the comic talents involved make it work.

And if we're lucky, this will all lead to what the world really needs: a raunchy vampire movie.

tlong@detnews.com">tlong@detnews.com (313) 222-8879

From left, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Justin Long and Drew Barrymore star in "Going the Distance." / New Line Cinema