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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Going the Distance

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are girlfriend and boyfriend living on opposite sides of the country in "Going the Distance" (Warner Bros.), a surprisingly raunchy romantic comedy, even allowing for its suggestive title.

Whatever wholesome charms Barrymore and Long possess are obscured by the dirty-minded nature of the dialogue. As for the characters they portray, their separation anxiety pales in comparison to the audience's distress at hearing them continuously spout vulgarities and obsess about sex. "Going The Distance" implies that pining from afar can be tougher on the people around two lovebirds than it is on the sweethearts themselves.

Barrymore, she of the dynastic acting clan, and Long, best known as the "Mac Guy" from the Apple computer ad campaign, have had an on-again, off-again relationship in real life that may account for their easy rapport on screen. Unfortunately, the soul mates they portray lack personality, and director Nanette Burstein and screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe resort to sophomoric bawdiness to enliven the proceedings.

Erin and Garrett meet in a Manhattan watering hole on the very night when Garrett's girlfriend has broken up with him, citing his insensitivity and commitment phobia. He just hasn't met the right girl yet. Enter Erin, a Stanford graduate student in New York for a summer internship at a daily newspaper. They sleep together, but in the morning realize something more meaningful than a one-night stand is possible. After a six-week idyll, she must head back out West and they agree to attempt a bicoastal relationship.

Over the better part of a year, when they aren't texting or saying goodbye in the airport after brief visits, Garrett banters with pals Box (Jason Sudeikis) and Dan (Charlie Day), while Erin fields advice from her protective older sister Corinne (Christina Applegate). Erin has been burned before after dropping everything for a guy. Garrett, who works as a talent scout for a record company, tries to find a job in San Francisco without success. Unless something gives, they're doomed.

In addition to whining about being apart, Erin and Garrett lament the beleaguered state of the newspaper and music industries—a plaint that will resonate most with so-called media elites.

Lacking authenticity, the graphic language and unsavory situations overlaying the plot, by contrast, will ring false to a cross-section of viewers. For two educated, presumably intelligent people, Erin and Garrett have limited vocabularies and imaginations. Ditto their cohorts. The copious amount of alcohol everybody consumes may be a contributing factor.

One positive element of "Going the Distance" is that it implicitly endorses committed, monogamous relationships. Still, there's no indication Erin and Garrett will marry in the end.

The film contains two somewhat explicit if fleeting premarital encounters, rear male nudity, persistent alcohol and an instance of marijuana use, much profanity, frequent graphic sexual banter and pervasive rough, crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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