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Entries in Justin Long (2)

Friday
Sep212012

10 Years

When you’re younger, ten years seems like an eternity. With so few years under your belt, the thought of ten years passing is unimaginable. It isn’t until you’ve lived through those years that you realize just how quickly they went. With my ten year high school reunion not too far off in the future, I’m finally beginning to understand this. I don’t really know what life holds for me or where I’ll be in the next 10 years and I’m longing to hold onto my childhood, but I know I have to grow up. It’s a sad, but inevitable revelation. The characters in writer/director Jamie Linden’s movie, 10 Years, are transitioning through the same time period I am and having the same thoughts. Perhaps this is why I connected with it so much, but by the end, I, strangely, didn’t feel sad about my now gone childhood. Instead, it gave me a newfound appreciation for those years and the good times I had while also giving me an excited optimism about the years to come.

The story follows a group of friends as they reunite for their 10 year high school reunion. Jake (Channing Tatum) is now dating Jess (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), but he still seems to hold some feelings for his high school flame, Mary (Rosario Dawson), and he needs to sort that out. His buddy, Cully (Chris Pratt), is using the event to make up for past mistakes, apologizing profusely to any “nerd” he may have bullied back in the day. Their mutual friend, Reeves (Oscar Isaac), has actually become a world famous musician and, despite the annoyance of his former classmates’ desires to take pictures with him, he begins to connect with his old science class buddy, Elise (Kate Mara). Meanwhile, their two reckless friends, Marty (Justin Long) and AJ (Max Minghella), are causing their own trouble and attempting to get close to the girl they considered the hottest in school, Anna (Lynn Collins).

Throughout each story, a lesson is learned; lessons about expectations, friendship, love and even waiting for love (they say love is patient, after all). Most of these stories involve characters who miss their high school days. Some are stuck in jobs they hate and long for the carefree days of high school while others, like Reeves, have done something interesting with their lives, but feel like they have unfinished business to take care of. What each story has in common, though, is that they’re all about growing up and moving on. They’re about holding onto the good old days while forging new memories in what will hopefully be better days to come. For someone who is relatively new to this whole “being an adult” thing, I understood what these characters were feeling, as will anyone who has made that bittersweet transition into adulthood.

As with any movie of this type, one that tells multiple stories with many different characters, it’s a bit uneven. Some are unpredictable while others you’ll see coming from a mile away. Some are genuinely emotional, while others are a tad too cheesy for their own good. Some feel incredibly real, while others seem like little more than manufactured melodrama. The surprise, one that deviates from your typical intertwining vignette picture, is that the better stories don’t completely overshadow the others. Most are so close in quality that the word “superior” becomes a relative term.

This is no doubt thanks to an incredible cast full of names and faces you’ll instantly recognize who craft characters that are charismatic, three-dimensional and likable. Even the ones who clearly had a shady past in regards to the way they treated others, like Cully, are genuinely redemptive, even if their attempts at that redemption are too forceful to reach full effect. In the end, 10 Years turns out to be an unexpected delight. It’s a happy and optimistic movie with a love for life, both for what is to come and what has already passed, and it will leave you with a smile on your face.

10 Years receives 4/5

Friday
Sep032010

Going the Distance

Summertime and the holiday season are the two biggest times of the year for cinema. Not only are they the most profitable for Hollywood, they also receive the most high profile films. Big budget blockbusters, hilarious ensemble comedies and dramatic Oscar contenders all seem to show up during those points in the year. The areas in between, despite having the occasional winner, are usually laden with garbage—bad romantic comedies, lame horror movies and the like (the latter of which The Last Exorcism can attest to). Well, this week’s romantic comedy, Going the Distance, is one of those occasional winners. Its execution is awkward and its existence slight, but there’s a bit of charm and a few decent laughs to keep you interested.

Justin Long plays Garrett, an outgoing young guy who hates his job at a local New York record company. In a hilarious, true-to-life opening, his girlfriend breaks up with him for not buying her a gift on her birthday, despite telling him she didn’t want anything. Supposedly, the statement was intended for him to realize how much he wants to get a gift for her. But no dice, he doesn’t and the relationship ends. At a bar one night, he meets Erin, played nicely by Drew Barrymore, at a Centipede arcade machine. It turns out she’s the elusive ERL who has dominated the leaderboards for the last few months. The two connect and end up back at Garrett’s place, but then Erin explains to him that she’s an intern at the New York Sentinel and is only in town for another few weeks. Although they agree early on not to take the relationship further than random hangouts and hookups, it nevertheless blossoms and they decide to attempt a long distance relationship, Garrett in New York and Erin in California.

There’s something wonderful about Drew Barrymore. She’s the perfect every girl, someone you can believe would be walking around the streets of the Big Apple. She is adorable, bubbly and charming with a sort of sexiness that doesn’t overshadow her personality. Cast her opposite real life on again, off again boyfriend Justin Long and you have a chemistry that feels authentic.

Even more important than that, however, is the humor and there are a few great jokes here. There aren’t many movies that can pull off a Triumph of the Will reference, but Going the Distance somehow does. That funny line precedes the funniest scene of the movie: phone sex gone wrong. But for every one of those instances, there’s another where the joke falls completely flat or is stretched too long, including an absurdly unfunny sight gag involving a tanning machine and run on jokes about defecating with the door open.

What the movie unfortunately lacks is an emotional evolution of the characters. Think back to some of the greatest romantic comedies of all time like It Happened One Night or When Harry Met Sally. Those wonderful films began with the two main characters at a quarrel, not particularly liking each other, but as the movie went on they gradually realized the romantic feelings that were there. Going the Distance has no such arc. The characters love each other at the beginning and they love each other at the end. So what the film instead resorts to is a continual loop, one character flying out to visit the other, going back home and then wondering if they can keep it up being so far apart. It wears thin by the end.

Going the Distance has many problems and it falls far short of being memorable. I suspect in a month or so, I’ll have forgotten about it entirely, but the leads are likable and the supporting cast beautifully supports them, providing a much needed comedic break between the sometimes eye rolling dramatics. It’s worth a look, but only once and never again.

Going the Distance receives 2.5/5