Courtesy of Summit (Lionsgate)
Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s are the most unlikeliest of pairings in the new romantic comedy “Long Shot.”
Director Jonathan Levine (who helmed the wonderful dramady “50/50”) pits his muse, the adorable stoner Rogen with the out-of-his-league starlet Theron in a film that tries to work both as a social commentary and raunchy comedy. The result can seem mixed (especially when the humor seems behind the times) - but Levine’s Film manages to find common ground and pack some political bite.
Rogan is Fred Flarsky a journalist, whose wardrobe only consists of Nike windbreakers, and has quit his job after his outlet is purchased by a real Roger Alias type of goon (Andy Serkis - completely unrecognizable) for his own political leaning agenda. The fallout leads him to a extravagant gala (featuring, of all bands, Boyz II Men) and he locks eyes with his 16 year old babysitter, now Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Theron) and they rekindle an old relationship.
Fourntaley for Flarksy, Field is making a bid for the 2020 presidential election, and because image means everything, Field hires Flarsky as a speechwriter to punch up her comedic wit as her latest poll numbers indicate she isn’t funny enough to command the free world (and even needs to make certain physical adjustments like, for example, the way she waves at a crowd).
Every aspect of Field’s life is micromanaged to the point where she can only read synopsis of “Game of Thrones” episodes or take micro naps standing up. Yet it’s Flarksy who throws a wrench in her daily agenda (much to the dismay of her handlers Ravi Patel and June Diane Raphael) by offering her a life outside of the political scene. They ask each other questions about life, drink a little, and pop some Molly (I’d wager this is the first studio picture to feature a female Secretary of State negotiating the release of a US hostage on drugs - and it’s as funny as it sounds).
“Long Shot” is a sweet natured comedy that sports remarkable chemistry amongst the two leads, even if the film falters in its take on society norms in 2019. This perpetrated by a diversion from the main plot late in the second act, with how Flarksy couldn’t be “accepted” as Field’s spouse (because the poll numbers say so!) And that’s where the script (penned by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah) seems to lose its focus. Why wouldn’t woke millennials accept this seemingly normal dude as her choice for a boyfriend? He seems harmless enough. Additionally, “Long Shot” might get a pass in the era of the #MeToo movement, but several moments where Rogan upstages key cast members felt like a showcase nobody was asking for.
Don’t get me wrong, “Long Shot” benefits from his brand of comedy (an opening sequence where he tries to infiltrate a local KKK organization gets the film going on a breezy and hilarious high note) but too often, Theron constantly has to fight for the spotlight, however, when she gets it, boy does she shine.
Bob Odenkirk is given a prime role as the doofus president obviously created to mimic our current climate (in the film, he’s an actor who originally played the president on a popular television program - truly hammering home the notion that anyone can be commander in chief). It’s all in good fun and Levine, though getting a bit heavy handed towards the climax, gets mileage out the charm and likability he manifests in Rogen and Theron’s courtship, hopefully paving the way for more unorthodox pairings and perhaps sharper scripts in the future.