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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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