R, 120 mins.
2019, R, 120 mins.
Seth Rogen as Fred Flarsky / Charlize Theron as Charlotte Field / Boyz II Men as Themselves / June Diane Raphael as Maggie / O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Lance / Bob Odenkirk as President Chambers / Andy Serkis as Parker Wembley / Ravi Patel as Tom / Randall Park as Boss
Directed by Jonathan Levine / Written by Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling
I don't typically ask much of most romcoms.
I honestly don't.
Even when their plots go down the most predictable of paths all that I simply require out of them is to make me care. These films must give me two characters that are likeable, relatable, and that I want to see live on happily ever after just before the end credits roll by.
LONG SHOT is the
latest romcom that coasts by on many conventional and troupe laden roads,
and you can essentially see its narrative maneuver itself from one
preordained beat to the next.
But it's so wonderfully engaging because of the odd couple
chemistry of its seemingly mismatched leads, both of whom manage to
harness the cockamamie material given to them and somehow make it all feel
Plus, LONG SHOT also dabbles in some shrewdly written political
satire and provides some very topical commentary about how female
candidates face much stricter roadblocks on the way to success beyond
their male counterparts.
But, yes, LONG
SHOT is specifically engineered to be an easily digestible crowd pleaser
genre effort that also manages - rather refreshingly - to be an adult
oriented film that doesn't shy away from its hard-R rating (far too many
clean cut and saccharine romcoms these days seem tailor made for teen
And the whole film is marketed on the utterly unconventional
pairing of stars Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen, both of whom seem - with
respect and admiration to Mr. Rogen - to be on polar opposite ends of the
Director Jonathan Levine (no stranger to the comedies, having
previously made the superb 50/50 with Rogen
and the terribly underrated zombie infused WARM
BODIES) understands the bizarre nature of these two actors coming
together, but he nevertheless crafts a romcom that builds on both of their
inherent strengths as performers, leading to them coming off as such a
natural and effortlessly winning dynamic duo here.
A majority of the euphoric charm that comes off of LONG SHOT is in
large thanks to Theron and Rogen's involvement here.
Still, Rogen is
occupying his comfort zone here playing his umpteenth intelligent, but
awkward and weed lovin' man child character (granted, he's so easily
agreeable and assured in these roles that it's hard to nitpick about it).
He plays the dweeby named Fred Flarsky, a popular, but polarizing
journalist for an alternative publication that's not afraid to let the
writer run wild with attacking big game targets in F-bomb riddled
The film establishes his unique brand of journalistic courage in an
oddly chilling opening sequence involving him going undercover as a Jew
hater to infiltrate a local neo-Nazi organization (not entirely the
feel-good opening for any romcom).
Fred's life changes for the worse when he arrives at work one day
and is told by his boss that their paper is about to be purchased by a
conservative nut job media mogul (played by an astonishingly
unrecognizable Andy Serkis), and he decides that he'd rather quit with his
pride intact than have to work for a man that represents everything he
The sorrowful and
angry Fred manages to find some solace in his BFF Lance (a superb O'Shea
Jackson Jr. from STRAIGHT OUTTA
COMPTON), who decides to take him to an ultra posh fundraiser,
during which time he fatefully crosses paths with Charlotte Field (Theron),
who once was his babysitter back in the day and his now trying to launch a
campaign to run for President of the United States.
She's currently Secretary of State for the blowhard Commander-in-Chief
(Bob Odenkirk), who's a former reality TV star (sound familiar?) that
doesn't want to seek re-election and instead wants to take a stab at
starring in movies.
Realizing that she has her work cut out for her on the campaign
trail, Charlotte decides to hire Fred as her chief speech writer, seeing
as she admires his work and his overall frankness and honesty of approach.
But she also sentimentally remembers Fred as a nurturing young fan
of hers back in high school that shared her passion to change the world.
if both of them will manage to fall in love along the way and complicate
her election bid?
the overall premise for LONG SHOT is pure TV sitcom levels of preposterous
Yet, the film is awfully sweet tempered and unbelievably funny and
smart when it comes to honing in on this pair of highly unlikely lovers.
Rogen is the furthest thing away from conventional leading man
material, even though he's been in some solid romcoms that play up to his
everyman schlub-like stature (see KNOCKED UP).
LONG SHOT harnesses the inherent Rogenian wackiness and crudeness
that we've all come to expect from the actor, but Levine also intuitively
knows how to reign the actor in just right to capture his well meaning
heart and soul as well.
This film understands, of course, that Theron is a million miles
out of Rogen's league, but it does have inspired moments of merriment at
this bizarre expense of their union.
The two actors play things as straight and sincerely as possible so
that you become more willing to buy into their improbable union as the
Is there a finer,
more headstrong, and versatile actress working in movies than Theron?
She's completely unafraid of genre challenge and has played
everything from post-apocalyptic road warriors in action films like MAD
MAX: FURY ROAD to cold hearted businesswomen in sci-fi thrillers
like PROMETHEUS to serial killers in
MONSTER and depressed pregnant mothers in comedies like TULLY.
There's virtually no role that she doesn't completely and
authentically inhabit, and in LONG SHOT she demonstrates terrific comic
timing alongside a fiery tenacity playing a beleaguered woman in a
relative sausage fest of a political landscape.
Her character is also of chief importance to the film's most
sobering theme of exploring how women oftentimes feel forced to radically
alter their true image to win over voters that otherwise would give flawed
male candidates a free pass.
Charlotte is surrounded by narcissistic and sexist men in power who
have this unsavory desire to derail any potential chance she has to make
it to the White House (everything from personal blackmail to slut shaming
is thrown in her face).
LONG SHOT's basic romcom premise is wholly contrived, but it has a
lot of insightful things to say about white male privilege as a damning
force in contemporary politics that's breaking it apart.
But make no
mistake about it, this is still a potty mouthed, drug fuelled, and bodily
fluid gag laced raunch-fest beyond its smart and layered handling of
Theron's character (projectile semen even becomes a very specific and
frequently referenced plot point here).
However, I'm no prude and despite some of the film's icky content
I'm mostly glad that LONG SHOT stuck to its creative guns to make a mature
minded romcom not directed at kids.
And like great past comedies, Levine here manages to marry the
film's aggressive raunch with an appealingly tender handling of character
I only wished that LONG SHOT was tighter, leaner, and, well,
shorter (at a watch checking two hours, the film is 15-plus minutes
too long for its own good) and maybe was a bit more progressive minded in
its handling of the obligatory accoutrements of the genre (LONG SHOT is a
smart comedy that oftentimes adheres to a plethora of dumb formulas).
This might not all matter, because Levine places commendable trust
in his oddly assembled lead actors and lets them invest in the characters,
leading to some superb on-screen chemistry that helps wash away the old
fashioned vibe of the storytelling on display.