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Is Drew Barrymore The Ben Affleck Of Romantic Comedies?

Drew Barrymore: Is her romantic-comedy reputation greater than her track record? Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images

Quick, name the last Ben Affleck movie that (1) you really liked; or (2) you really liked him in; or (3) both.

Take a look at the evidence. It's pretty dismal. The Affleckian lean years, it is safe to say, have far outnumbered ... the year in which Good Will Hunting was released.

I've had this discussion with several friends over the last five years or so: Aside from his ability to be remarkably charming on talk shows, how is Ben Affleck a movie star?

(In fairness to Affleck, he also directed 2007's Gone Baby Gone, which was quite good, and he has at times shown some self-awareness about the possibility that acting may not be his particular gift.)

Comes now the news that Drew Barrymore will be teaming up with Justin Long in a romantic comedy called Going The Distance.

This might seem like welcome news to date-movie fans, who haven't had a great year so far. But is it, really?

The Barrymorian lean years, after the jump ...

Barrymore made Music And Lyrics with Hugh Grant in 2007, and that was both winning and reasonably successful. So let's stipulate to Music And Lyrics.

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(We will not stipulate to He's Just Not That Into You, because she's barely in it, and also because it's stupefyingly terrible as well as terribly stupid.)

And then, looking back: Fever Pitch. 50 First Dates. Aaaaaand...we reach Never Been Kissed in 1999 before you get to an upbeat romance that people still kind of love. (Hey, people still kind of love it; believe me, right or wrong.)

Don't misunderstand: 50 First Dates in particular made a lot of money, in part because it co-starred Adam Sandler, whose appeal reaches well beyond the typical romantic-comedy audience.

But is there evidence to support a kind of, "Hey, Drew Barrymore will be the sunny female lead in this romantic romp; that's a good sign!" attitude? Is her track record in fact as good as her track record in theory?

Or is she the Ben Affleck of the romantic-comedy genre — a more appealing presence before you actually take a look at the movies she's made?