If there’s one thing that Long Shot tries to teach us, it’s that love and politics don’t mix.
Or maybe they do. What do I know? I can firmly promise you that I’m never going to any kind of politician, and if you think my frozen, black heart is capable of feeling anything like love then you’re only fooling yourself so, hey, maybe love and politics DO really mix?
Whatever the actuality may be, 50/50 and The Night Before director Jonathan Levine is making a hard case for the former argument in his new romantic comedy, Long Shot.
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) has known that she wants to be a president ever since she was the sixteen-year-old student government prodigy. Even when she got stuck babysitting the weird neighbor kid who clearly had a crush on her, Fred (Braxton Herda, who does a pretty killer Seth Rogen impression), she didn’t waste an7 opportunities in giving inspiring speeches and making future campaign promises.
A couple of decades later and Charlotte, who is now the United State Secretary of State, has almost made it there.
With President Chambers (Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk) announcing that he’s not going to run for re-election in 2020 so that he can go back to being a television actor (wink wink), all Charlotte has to do to take on the position is not piss off either side of the political spectrum in a major way or suffer from any kind of major embarrassment in the coming months.
Enter Fred Flarsky (Rogen), a now fully grown man who just so happens to be a bit of a major embarrassment.
At one point, Flarsky used to be a highly respected reporter who wrote a scathing number of op-eds that called corporations out in their corrupt behavior. Those corporations, however, didn’t like that too much, causing the newspaper Flarsky writes for to be bought out by a billionaire d-head named Parker Wembley (an almost unrecognizable Andy Serkis apart from the voice).
That means that Flarsky is now out of a job.
Drunk and unshaven, Fred heads to a party with his long-time buddy Lance (O'Shea Jackson Jr), only to bump into his former babysitter, which then causes something of a reconnection between the two.
After all, Fred needs a job, and preferably one that involves writing. Charlotte, as it turns out, just so happens to need a new speechwriter, and preferably one who’s at least somewhat experienced in writing. Could this be the match made in Heaven they were both looking for?
Yes, and in more ways than one, too, as much to the dismay of Charlotte's PR team — that being the always unimpressed Maggie Millikin (June Diane Raphael) and Tom (Ravi Patel) — the two quickly begin to fall in love.
That can only end in disaster, right? If there’s anything that romantic comedies taught us in the past, it’s that this kind of thing NEVER works out, yes?
Predictable as Long Shot may be, the thing about Levine’s comedies is that they’ve always been more than just a bunch of weed and sex jokes. They’re in there, yes, but 50/50 is a movie about a man trying to come to terms with the fact that he might die of cancer. The Night Before is about someone who’s in denial about his depression and ever apparent mid-life crisis. Both of those movies are still really funny, but they also don’t stop short there, either.
Long Shot is, more or less, the same way. You know when going into this one that you’re probably going to laugh. Rogen has always been a likable and funny actor (his best being This is the End, in my opinion, although I do like seeing him in serious roles like Steve Jobs, too), and between Tully (sort of, at least) and Arrested Development, Theron has proven she has a knack for comedy, too.
Yet, once again, there’s more to Long Shot than just the gross-out gags. The romance is actually really kind of lovely, and there’s a whole lot of 2019 relevancy thrown in there with the political side of the story — all of which creates a charming, albeit somewhat uneven, experience.
The best bits of Long Shot, easily, come from the on-screen chemistry between Rogen and Theron. Not only do these two actors work great together, but the script itself has a lot of fun in coming up with different ways to pair these two together (there are a good two or three dozen references to Pretty Women during this thing) and then tear them apart. Yes, it’s the standard rom-com rising and action we’ve seen a million times before, but they at least have the decency to add a bit more dramatic weight behind it this time around as it doesn’t seem like an absolute guarantee they’ll get back together.
Then you get into the government side of things, which, I’ll admit, doesn’t always come off quite as clean as it should. They kind of backed themselves into a corner by taking on subject matter that needs to address the modern day state of the union. I think they actually do it really well — Odenkirk’s parody is spot on and really funny — but it also kind of sticks out like a sore thumb when comparing it to the rest of the film. Watch one of Odenkirk’s scenes or the hostage negotiation sequence and then watch a scene in which Theron and Rogen are trying to have a serious conversation about Theron’s job and it feels like two completely different films.
The other issue I take with Long Shot is that two-hour running time. I kind of thought/hoped we were moving away from over-long and improv filled comedies, as films like Booksmart of The Beach Bum have shown the wonders of what a sharp and smart script can do. While Long Shot isn’t as bloated as a Judd Apatow movie might be, shaving a good fifteen or twenty minutes off wouldn’t have hurt (they really didn’t even need the Serkis storyline thrown in there).
Still, it’s hard to watch Long Shot and not smile. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the better rom-coms in recent years alongside The Big Sick, as you can tell the filmmakers and talent are really trying this time around and not just collecting a paycheck a la Ghost of Girlfriends Past, Second Act, Blended or what have you. No, I actually like this one quite a bit and wouldn’t mind seeing Rogen and Theron stick around in this genre, if they choose to do so.
Watch the trailer for Long Shot here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!
'Long Shot' - Charming as h*ck [REVIEW]8