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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 09/ 3/2010

In honor of 'Going the Distance,' we ask: Can real-life couples do big-screen romance?

By Sarah Anne Hughes

The good and the bad. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Jennifer Graylock/AP)

Posted by Sarah Anne Hughes

Real-life couples playing on-screen lovers: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is an epic disaster a la Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in “Gigli.” Drew Barrymore and sometimes-boyfriend Justin Long have taken the risk and, apparently, it paid off in “Going the Distance” -- in theaters now. While the film has only a 48 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a good deal of the reviewers found Long and Barrymore’s chemistry to be the best part of the film. The Post’s Michael O’Sullivan says of the couple: “Whether or not the actors' on-again-off-again real-life romance helped their performances as lovers frustrated by geography … it's clear they have chemistry. ... They're a modern-day Hepburn and Grant.” I haven’t seen the film, but “Hepburn and Grant”? They must be pretty darn fantastic.

Some famous couples will go down in history for their film romances: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton; Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. Which modern couples will join them? We examined a few recent case studies to find out.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in “Mr. And Mrs. Smith”
Is this the film that launched 1,000 tabloid covers? It certainly seems that way. The phenomenon known as Brangelina, perhaps the most infamous real-life/on-screen couple in recent history, allegedly began on the set of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” While the movie wasn’t so great, Pitt and Jolie really sizzled on-screen, leading to rumors of a real-life romance. And we all know how that turned out. But really: With two people this good-looking, how couldn’t they have chemistry both on-screen and off? Although the couple worked well on the big screen, it doesn't seem they have plans to try it again. Maybe their 57 kids are keeping them busy.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in “The Notebook”
In perhaps the best Nicolas Sparks’ film adaptation, Gosling and McAdams play lovers separated by money and societal pressures in "The Notebook" and do one heck of a job. The pair even won an MTV Movie Award for best kiss. But alas, the onscreen couple that made us all swoon didn't make it in real life. The two were engaged, but broke it off late 2007. Gosling told GQ magazine after the split, "A girl came up to me on the street and she almost smacked me. Like, 'How could you? How could you let a girl like that go?'" Yeah, their onscreen chemistry was that good.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in “Twilight”
Kristen Stewart is the envy of every Twihard. She gets to kiss Robert Pattinson on screen in the "Twilight" films and apparently off screen as well. While they haven’t confirmed their relationship, the two have been seen smooching in public. While some would call their onscreen relationship awkward -- not me, "Twilight" people! -- it can be excused by the fact that Pattinson, who plays vampire Edward, had to brood constantly throughout the first three movies. But now in the fourth film, “Breaking Dawn,” the vampire and moody girl Bella are married, upping the chances for more mature, not cringe-inducing romantic scenes. Come on Kpatz! Show us what you got!

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Javier Bardem is an amazing actor. His creep-tastic, Oscar-winning role in “No Country For Old Men” proved that. But the fiery dose of passion he and his real-life love, now wife Penelope Cruz injected into the Woody Allen film transcended just acting skills. There was something truly powerful about the dynamic between Cruz and Bardem, who played exes who can’t seem to stay away from one another, even though their relationship only leads to turmoil and attempted homicide. Kirk Honeycutt for The Hollywood Reporter said, “The film belongs to Bardem and Cruz.” I couldn't agree more.

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in “The Last Song”
Nicolas Sparks provides yet another real-life/onscreen couple in the form of teen queen Miley Cyrus and actor Liam Hemsworth. While "The Last Song" was dismal, the kissing between the two did cause quite a bit of buzz. But the couple fell victim to what I will call the Sparks Curse and split, with Hemworth’s rep confirming the breakup. While this isn't any great loss to the cinematic community, it is to the publishers of Tiger Beat and Bop.

Who are some other real-life couples who have sizzled (or fizzled) on the big screen recently? Tell us in the comments.

By Sarah Anne Hughes  | September 3, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Brangelina, Celebrities, Movies, Pop Culture  
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Not recent, but Bogie/Bacall, Tracy/Hepburn.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 3, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the problem with Gigli was so much the lack of chemistry between the leads as the rotten script and the inability of one of them to act (you decide which one).

Posted by: epjd | September 3, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

annette benning and warren ? ewe, it was like watching grandpa date a high schooler

Posted by: newagent99 | September 3, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Forgive me, but I like Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It was a good comedy with lots of action.
I especially like Brad's girly kicking actions.

I watch some parts of it every other Saturday on TBS.

Posted by: Veritasamus | September 3, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Another not recent couple: Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham. Of course, they are now split up, too (but after quite a long run...)

Posted by: cjbriggs | September 3, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"Hepburn and Grant"?? Cary Grant was never romantically linked with either Hepburn. Did they mean Hepburn and Tracy?

Posted by: meowtomeow | September 3, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

After his most recent, Danny Trejo is looking for the 'like' button for this post, and Jessica's phone number.

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | September 3, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Was I the only one who found Bardem's character a slimey, lecherous, really offensive guy in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"? Almost as offensive as that same damn song being played over and over and over and over and over . . . Yeah, the movie belonged to Bardem and Cruz. They can have it. BTW, I thought Cruz was great in "Volver."

Posted by: Sutter | September 5, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

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