Drew Barrymore and Justin Long try the long-distance thing

By Karen Valby
Updated September 01, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Jessica Miglio

STARRING Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate, Ron Livingston
WRITTEN BY Geoff LaTulippe
DIRECTED BY Nanette Burstein

Documentarian Nanette Burstein (American Teen) wanted to make a romantic comedy about a woman who isn’t simply gunning for a ring or a wedding or a baby. And she wanted there to be a lot of swearing and good-natured raunch. So her feature debut, the R-rated Going the Distance, is tonally ”more akin to Knocked Up than it is to The Proposal,” she says. Drew Barrymore plays a journalism grad student who meets a music exec (Justin Long) while interning in New York City one summer, and the story follows their struggle to keep the fire burning once she returns home to California.

Burstein says that working with a real-life couple — her stars reunited just before production began — actually made her job easier. ”At first I was a little nervous, like, ‘Oh no, what if they fight?”’ she says. ”But they were completely in love. It’s an edgy comedy, and they’re in situations where if two actors weren’t really comfortable with each other, it would have been hard for them to do.” Like what, you wonder? ”Well, phone sex, for instance,” says Burstein.

For her part, Barrymore says the acting ”felt very real. It was a relief to think, Yeah, this is the dynamic of men and women.” Not that she’s completely given up on fantastical romance. ”I used to be obsessed with happy endings and fairy tales, and I still love those movies that give me hope or make me escape into my fantasies,” she says. ”But more and more, I’m liking the stamp of reality that feels really pertinent and accessible to my own life.”

Going the Distance

  • Movie
  • R
  • 95 minutes
  • Nanette Burstein