Going the Distance

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Going the Distance Movie Poster Image
Edgy Barrymore romcom has lots of sex, language.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

For the most part, the movie offers positive messages -- including that women and men should be equal partners in a relationship and that the woman isn't necessarily the one who should give up her dreams to pursue her guy. The movie also makes it clear that love is work, but that it's worth it for the right person. A secondary message is that you're never too old to pursue your dream career, despite past mistakes and a late start.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters do plenty of iffy things (drugs, drinking, hooking up), but they ultimately have each other's best interests in mind, and have a fairly honest and respectful relationship. Secondary characters bolster the idea that friends and family should be there for you in times of crisis and joy (though they also do iffy things in the name of comic relief).


An inebriated woman gets into a shouting match with a guy at a bar and has to be hauled out bodily.


Plenty of frank discussion about sex acts (including dry humping, oral sex, and masturbation). A couple has phone sex (viewers see their hands meander under the covers and hear some of the dirty talk). Some scenes in which the central couple is shown in sexual positions and is implied to be having intercourse -- in one, the man's naked behind is visible. In another, non-sexual scene, a main character is shown naked from most angles while attempting to get a spray tan (no genitals shown). Kissing, hooking up. Lots of sexual/body part language, including "penis," "vagina," "d--k," "laid," and more.


Very frequent use of many swear words -- including "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "goddamn," "bitch," "laid," "a--hole," "hell," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), and more.


Some signage for Southwest and Budweiser. Mug Root Beer and Boston Market are also shown/mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A couple smokes weed through a bong (leading him to call her "Snoop"). They also drink frequently, usually in pubs or bars, with their friends. A lead character gets sloshed one night and nearly cheats.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this refreshing romcom is quite a bit edgier than many of star Drew Barrymore's other, more kid-friendly comedies: It's a frank exploration of long-distance relationships and all of the challenges that come with them, from the emotional to the sexual. There's lots of swearing (including frequent use of "f--k"), plus plenty of references to -- and colorful descriptions of -- sex acts (including oral sex, masturbation, phone sex, and more). A few scenes include some partial male nudity (including a memorable butt shot); there's also a fair bit of drinking and some drug use (the lead characters smoke weed with a bong).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjrn February 18, 2011

Adults only

Explicit sexual content, drug and alcohol use.
Parent of a 4, 6, and 7-year-old Written byrchris2000 January 17, 2011
Teen, 15 years old Written byDQWDPLAYER October 11, 2010
Teen, 17 years old Written bymoviecritic October 7, 2010

Rated R for a Reason

I really liked this movie. BUT I have to say that it is rated R for a reason! Kids really shouldn't see this movie at all. Sexual content can get somewhat... Continue reading

What's the story?

Drew Barrymore and her real-life on-and-off beau Justin Long star in GOING THE DISTANCE as Erin and Garrett, two thirtysomethings who hit it off one night at a bar and go on to have a summer fling. Since Erin's leaving New York and moving back to San Francisco after her newspaper internship's over, they vow to keep things light -- but once the six weeks are over, they realize that they like each other a lot more than they first admitted and want to try to stay together long distance. But living thousands of miles apart isn't conducive to a lasting relationship. Can love trump the miles?

Is it any good?

There's something authentic in the way that Going the Distance renders a modern-day relationship -- and one conducted from a distance, at that. It tries not to sugarcoat the emotional and sexual frustrations that such a setup unleashes. Which may be why the too-neat ending detracts from what is otherwise an entertaining, if a little predictable, romantic comedy.

Still, it's lots of fun. Erin and Garrett's meeting is cute, but not too cute, and there's enough edge in their banter to make it believable. That believability may have something to do with Long and Barrymore's history, as well as director Nanette Burstein's documentary filmmaking credentials. Extra props go to Christina Applegate as Erin's overprotective sister and to Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as Garrett's best friends, too. Bottom line? Suffice it to say that Going the Distance keeps the journey interesting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the film portrays sex, drinking, and drug use. Do you think it's intending to send any specific messages about those topics? What can some of the real-life repercussions of those behaviors be?

  • Who do you think this film is intended to appeal to? How can you tell?

  • Parents, talk to your teens about realistic expectations for dating and romance.

Movie details

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