GOING THE DISTANCE She's considering dumping him for John Hodgman.

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE'S dining room table gets a lot of action. As Corinne, a germaphobic, caustic housewife, she nearly calls in a hazmat team after her younger sister Erin's (Drew Barrymore) long-distance boyfriend Garrett (Justin Long), er... comes to visit. Later, Corinne and her husband Phil (Jim Gaffigan) use the table for some "intensely erotic" dry humping. Because dry humping is no joke. Oh but it is, and it is one of the many forcefully edgy talking points in Going the Distance, which has the bones of an average romantic comedy, but is dressed to the teeth in a kind of quasi-realism that doesn't ordinarily enter the atmosphere of its ilk. Underemployment. Blackout drinking. Shitty apartments. The word "shitty." It's all here.

Erin's character begins the film as a 31-year-old summer intern at a New York newspaper who meets record label employee Garrett in a dive bar. Bong rips, intrusive roommates, sex, and breakfast follow, and thus begins a romance that carries on after Erin returns to finish school at Stanford. To its credit, Distance tackles more than one relationship dilemma. Erin and Garrett not only grapple with typical long-distance issues (trust, temptation, expensive airfare, awkward phone sex), but also with knowing when to compromise togetherness or career. It's ably executed subject matter, familiar to the genre, but remarkable in its rejection of the fantasy world of permanently blow-dried hair and effortless affluence that most romantic comedies reside in.

This is a new fantasy for a new generation marked by 20-year adolescences and a taste for reality-based entertainment, an old formula inserted into a new skin. It talks dirty and wears ripped jeans, but the fantasy is still there, living a different dream as binge drinkers in the big city with creative careers and eventual prosperity in the distance. Going the Distance's R rating allows more leeway with the jokes, though some of the funniest bits steer clear of the gutter, like Garrett's scuzzy, eccentric roommate Dan's (Charlie Day) obsession with the fact that despite the pigeon population "there are no baby pigeons in New York." In fact, most of the gross humor feels forced to distraction, like Dan's insistence on pooping with the door open or Erin and Garrett's persistent discussions about how horny they are.

For the most part, genre movies of this kind are interchangeable, and it's the fantasy that you select when you choose to watch one. Scottish countryside or Upper Eastside townhouse? Funny gay friend or funny married friend? And so on. Distance doesn't really change the game, but it does bring a grubbier option to the table.