Silly Garrett. He took his girlfriend at her word when she told him he didn't need to buy her a birthday present. When no gift appears, the haughty hottie storms out, telling him he was supposed to want to get her something awesome! Oh, and don't bother calling her again because he hasn't been as committed to their relationship as she's been.
Now he's really confused. Does "don't call me" actually mean "call me"?
Commitment-phobic Garrett doesn't have to worry about it long, though. He meets journalism intern Erin that night at a New York City bar and the two kiss and paw their way into what they expect to be a one-night stand. After all, in six weeks Erin's going back to school at Stanford, and neither one of them wants a serious relationship anyway.
Their biggest problem then becomes the pesky fact that they really like each other. After a month and a half of hanging out (read: having sex), they decide they don't want to lose their sort-of relationship. It's inadvertently become meaningful. So they opt for ignoring the miles between them to try to make their long-distance hook-up work. That means lots of phone calls, even more texts and frequent-flyer miles, and a few Skype dates watching YouTube videos.
Erin's living with her sister Corinne. Garrett's scouting bands for a record company while rooming with one of his drinking buddies, Dan. And none of the couple's friends (or siblings) like what they see. Corinne doesn't want Erin to give up her entire future—again!—for a relationship she doubts will work out. Dan and another one of Garrett's friends, Box, are worried that Erin has taken over his brain.
Erin and Garrett have sex within hours of meeting. And the carnal encounter is just about the only thing in the entire movie that's implied. Later, after partially undressing each other, they have graphic sex on Corinne's dining room table, with Garrett's bare backside shown as he moves on top of Erin.
Phil is sitting at the table eating and watching them.
Phil and Corinne are later shown (clothed) loudly acting out sex on the same table.
Their daughter almost walks in on them.
The mock sex Phil and Corinne have isn't the only time sex acts are acted out. And several hand gestures are obscene. Beyond their habit of sexting, Erin and Garrett have phone sex and are both shown masturbating under their respective blankets while graphically discussing sexual fantasies. They also make out frequently, several times in front of Box and Dan.
Numerous explicit references are made to oral sex, masturbation, ejaculation and sexual anatomy. Date rape and homosexuality are joked about. "Humping" is used as a running gag. Garrett says he once got a one-night stand out of his house the next morning by lying that he had to meet his wife for breakfast. Erin jokingly calls Garrett a "male whore" and says she doesn't mind being thought of as "slutty." Box keeps a list of women he'd like to have sex with before he dies.
Garrett strips down to get a spray tan and is seen holding his genitalia with one hand, his buttocks with the other. Pubic hair is briefly shown. We see Erin in her bra several times. Her shoulders get screen time when she's in the shower (where Garrett kisses her). She and other women wear low-cut tops.
Dan is Garrett's roommate and can hear everything Garrett does when he has girls spend the night in his room. Sometimes Dan "participates" by talking to the couple or playing music as they have sex.
Corinne tells Garrett that if he hurts Erin she'll cut his genitals off. Dan pretends to be Hitler and threatens people with the gas chamber.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Several of these characters seem to consider bars and clubs second homes where they spend much of their time doing shots, partying, getting wasted to avoid problems and hanging out over a beer or three. Erin gets so drunk with a co-worker that she passes out. Several characters discuss drunkenness as if it's a habitual state for them.
Erin and Garrett smoke a bong at his place. A narcotics bust is mentioned, and someone says tequila makes her do stupid things. Erin accuses a man of using steroids.
Other Negative Elements
Garrett and Erin don't discuss their exclusivity until Corinne presses her sister to have the dreaded Define-the-Relationship talk. Erin and Garrett decide that as long as things between them are "disease free and light," then they're a faithful couple.
Dan is seen from the side, using a toilet while talking to Box and Garrett. A woman complains that a club smells like urine with a hint of vomit. While drunk, Erin obscenely challenges a man she thinks has been rude. It's said that an equally drunk Dan threw up on the woman he was having sex with.
Corinne treats Phil horribly, demeaning his job and his masculinity. He and other "weathered" husbands retaliate in a way by painting a negative picture of marriage. They tell Garrett not to make them look bad with his toned body, loving comments and enthusiasm for Erin.
Garrett and Erin have a food fight with a cake in Corrine's kitchen—cake that's obviously not theirs. The next morning Corinne has to clean up their mess.
At least one rudely racial comment is made.
Thought Drew Barrymore only made PG-13 romcoms full of flirty sass and a few bad words? Think again. Graphic sex scenes. Flagrant f-words. Dimwitted drug abuse. This is a sexcom pure and simple—minus the pure part.
A better title for Going the Distance might be Hedging Our Bets. Erin and Garrett don't actually go any emotional or spiritual distance to truly commit to each other. Sure, Garrett winds up moving to Los Angeles—though not necessarily for Erin—and now their commute is only an hour's flight or six-hour car ride. But there's still no talk of marriage or a real future together. The two are instead content to continue test-driving their sex romp through the don't-tie-me-down-with-a-ring-so-soon wilderness. In fact, the film's official website states, "The couple just might have found something like love."
Not real love. Something like love. Only it's not very much like it at all. It's I'll-be-around-as-long-as-it's-disease-free-and-fun lust, actually. And that's barely even love's third cousin twice removed.
Couples deserve a lot more than that. But Erin and Garrett's relationship is an all-too-common hesitant experiment between people who have either seen the ravages of divorce or been told that committing to one person for the rest of your life is impossible, boring or impossibly boring. So rather than being excited about actual commitment, these two view vows as something to be avoided for as long as possible—and possibly forever.