Synopsis: He may have only just graduated, but Nick (Christopher Jacot) has it all figured out – marriage, a lucrative career and a totally different lifestyle from that of his West coast hippie parents. When he discovers that his future wife may be falling prey to a powerful and oversexed music producer, Nick is determined to fly to Toronto to win her back.
Lifelong buds and dedicated surfers Tyler and Dime have other ideas for their staid best friend – the road trip adventure of his life. With only six days to make it to the MuchMusic Video Awards, the unlikely road warriors head off. Two sexy hitchhikers, Sasha and Jill, complicate matters and a series of accidents, orchestrated by a malevolent stranger, sabotage the trip, turning Nicks’ future plans upside down.
‘Going the Distance’ is, for all intents and purposes, the Canadian version of ‘Road Trip’. And yet, strangely enough, it’s been sold off as a National Lampoon film outside of Canadian borders – as though it were produced and marketed by the iconic American humour magazine.
National Lampoon has long stopped publishing and is almost strictly a brand name now, selling countless of crappy teen comedies under its banner. However, this film is better than most. I first discovered it a few years ago, thanks to my local library, and always meant to revisit it.
It’s not a masterpiece, but it has its moments, and I suspect that many 16-year-old teens would have had a good time with this one: it has characters just getting out of high school, who surf, drink, smoke pot, and are on a constant quest for sexual adventures.
It’s also filled with (what was then) edgy music by the likes of Avril Lavigne, Swollen Members, Gob, Jet, Sum 41 and many more. Some of these artists even do cameos and/or perform in the film, as do George Stroumboulopoulos as the host of the MuchMusic Video Awards and Jason Priestly as a sleazy music producer (‘Going the Distance’ is pretty much a time capsule for mid-2000s Canadian pop culture ).
Anyway, the point of our film is that the lead character decides that he wants to get his girlfriend back, and he wants to go surprise her at the Video Awards ceremony, where she’s working. Originally planning to get there by plane, things go off-course when he is kidnapped by his buddies, taking him on the road in his Winnebago.
The only thing that could possibly have made this more similar to ‘Road Trip’ would have been if Tom Green had also been in it: ‘Going the Distance’ even has its own take on the Seann William Scott character (with a smidge of Jack Black thrown in for good measure) in the form of… get this… Shawn Roberts. Another Seann! Coincidence? Or Canadian-made clone?
One key difference about this trip, however, is our trio is soon joined by a couple of hitchhikers… of the female persuasion. I don’t know what the guys in ‘Road Trip’ would have made of this, but this shakes things up a bit with these guys, especially in light of the raging hormones that this lumbering road vehicle could already barely contain. With a couple of lovely girls in close proximity, you can rest assured that various amusing and/or “gratuitous” scenarios soon pop up (surprise, surprise… )
In fact, much of the humour is sex-related in some way or another. There’s a good balance, but the most riotous scenes revolve around some sort of outrageousness or shock value. It’s not all inspired, but there are some unique takes on a few standards and that’s good enough for the calibre of film ‘Going the Distance’ aspires to be. The film isn’t especially explicit, but it tries to push the envelope in some areas and it might offend those who prefer a strict diet of vanilla (i.e. don’t watch this one with your grandma )
Overall, though, it’s an amusing and relatively innocuous adventure (although it’s probably contributing to the corruption of our youth ), and it’s a pleasant enough way to kill 90 minutes (even if it doesn’t truly manage to grip or engross – its key weakness). Fans of ‘Road Trip’, ‘Me, Myself and Irene’, and (to a lesser degree) ‘Rat Race’ would probably enjoy its brand of comedy. Sure, it takes roads well-travelled, but the company and the pit stops may well be worth going the distance.