Actually, there are two ways to critically approach any film: on the basis of purely how well it fits into the contemporary scene of movie-making and how it stands up against time in its universal values. Since I prefer the latter, the other being all too easy in pretending that simply because it's a reflection of its times dismisses all other criteria in examining the film for its intrinsic values; I found that however "with it" this movie is, it remains at its core the ultimate in base pornography.
Drew Barrymore, portraying Erin, a thirty-something woman falling for Justin Long (Garrett) of approximately the same age, act more like a couple of horny teens on the make than the sophisticated people they might have been before the age of Apetow, when being horny became synonymous with love.
They meet, immediately fall into "platonic" sex, are separated when she gets a job in San Francisco while he remains in Gotham Both are so desperately in desire they even resort to masturbating via phone sex, and then, later, when they finally get together it's an immediate quickie on a polished table top, all the while professing - not love, but how much they miss one another's body.
They're a "with it" couple, part of the social scene so adept at flaunting everything from public toilet sitting (his apartment mate) to sex-related similes ("Your face is so pale it looks like it's covered with jism.") and they've generously injected a stream of profanity into every comment (as if to conceal the dismally inept script from Geoff LaTulippe, who not only lacks the ability to write original dialog, but also bumbles from incoherent scene to incoherent scene down to an unsatisfying, merely arbitrary ending).
Nanette Burstein's direction goes blithely along, as if enjoying the attempt to make wallowing in muck seem like warmth by simply flaunted it ad nauseam. She concentrates on that instead of checking such things as cinematographer Eric Steelberg's shooting, which, while giving us pretty shots of both NYC and San Francisco, doesn't care about how unflatteringly he presents his lead characters.
It's also quite appropriate, with the copiously sprinkled "f's," "sh's," graphic references to male & female genitalia, and all of George Carlin's largesse that a large poster of another master of profanity, Lenny Bruce, is hung proudly on the wall of Garrett's apartment. Those two original stand up comics, frankly, led the pack in what might be called artful use of profanity; the followers ape them, but cheaply, devoid of their innate talents.)
It's the first screwball comedy in which the word "screwball" is more meaningful if divided into two separate words. (Typical dialog: "Are you f'n kidding? She's got a f'n dick mouth only for f'n blow jobs." or "I've got a tip for you. Yeah, a tip of my penis.") And as a final brilliant end to any statement, "Sh-t." Sigmund Freud would have a field day analyzing what he would consider raging examples of Rachael complexes and that includes generous hints of bi-sexual relationships (only hinted at by all, as if with sly tongue-in-cheek).
I could only think of the sad situation our romantic comedies has come to - an ugly, timely abomination in contrast to the lasting sophisticated comedies of the 30s & 40s, a waste of good talent in something so sordidly part of the times - so easily accepted as entertainment (especially from one woman in the audience who would shrieked indiscriminately like a pre-recorded laugh track).
And why not? Like everything else in the film, it's all people ignorant of the stylish brilliance of the earlier screwball comedies have got to laugh at. Most of the time, it isn't even funny at that low level, just embarrassing. And it goes on forever, depending on repetitious cell phone calls to stretch the "humor" to its flat conclusion.
One final thought. Extremes hardly work. The Hayes Office and other decency controls over the films of the 30s & 40s existed to relegate R-rated films to pornographic status, stifling "realism" but it pushed Hollywood writers to astonishingly impressive lengths to turn out astonishingly clever comedies. Today's Apatow Office and other indecency gurus shove to the opposite extreme, shunning subtlety in favor of in-your-face porn as comedy. Like the horror flicks of today, paraphrasing Hitchcock, "What you don't see is far more interesting" (Grade: a generous D for its zippy pace and Mychael Danna's appropriate pop music throughout)