Long Shot: A Nice Blend Of Political Satire & Raunchy Humor
50/50 and Warm Bodies director Jonathan Levine seeks to meld raunchy humor and political satire with the rom-com in Long Shot. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it’s not going to save the genre, but it does provide a surprising dose of energetic and infectious fun that has kept moviegoers returning to the romantic comedy time and time again.
When Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) reunites with his first crush, one of the most influential women in the world, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), he charms her. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly.
Like so many romantic comedies, Long Shot lives and dies by the chemistry and charisma of its leads. The pairing of Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen may appear odd or unnatural at first glance, but the two couldn’t be more perfect. They have a very effortless and natural chemistry, and they light up the screen with their strong and committed performances.
The stars and their effect on the audience is pivotal to Long Shot’s success. The audience really needs to be able to see a bit of themselves in these characters, and thanks to some solid screenwriting from Dan Sterling (who served as executive producer on The Interview and brings the humor) and Liz Hannah (who wrote the screenplay for The Post and brings the political edge) Long Shot gives us two strong leads to latch on to. The characters Sterling and Hannah great are downright likable and easy to root for. Most moviegoers will quickly fall in love with the duo and want to see them find happiness — which, SPOILER ALERT, they do (go figure).
Rogen, of course, plays the funny man with his Fred Flarsky, who is shown infiltrating a white supremacist ring for a story in the film’s opening, going so far as to get 1/2 of a swastika tattoo to prove his dedication before he makes a narrow escape out a window. Flarsky is more noble than some of Rogen’s roles in the past, and while he’s primarily done lowbrow comedies, his continual work has clearly upped his game. He doesn’t play a total buffoon here, and while it is kinda hard to believe that someone of his stature would be with someone of Theron’s glowing magnitude, Rogen makes it work due to his charm. Director Jonathan Levine does use Rogen for physical comedy (like jumping out of the aforementioned KKK window), which is the flatter side of his performance; his witticisms, body language, and delivery are his far greater aspects, which are thankfully also called to action in Long Shot.
Theron plays the “straight man” with surprising force. Even more surprising is just how funny she is, as she goes toe-to-toe with Rogen in the humor department without faltering, proving yet again that she can play anything and do it well. A lot of the film is focused around how a female presidential candidate has to alter her personality to earn votes in a political system where a TV celebrity now holds Executive Office, which is obviously a reference to the 2016 election. Though it focuses on American wounds that have yet to heal, there’s still a lot of joy and humor to Theron’s Charlotte Fields’ journey. It was very nice treat to see her character, a politician who is too afraid to really be herself, slowly come more and more into her own.
Where Sterling and Hannah have the romantic angle down pat, the political satire isn’t as finely tuned. Though the film operates in a political arena, it really doesn’t offer any significant statement in that regard. In some ways, it undercuts its political edge by indirectly saying that the only way for a woman to get in touch with her true self is by letting loose and boogying down to Roxette’s “It Must Be Love” — which is a slight nod to rom-com staple Pretty Woman. Not to mention that all the people behind Fields’ character are men, which again subtly says that in order for woman to succeed in the world, they must be in the company of men.
Luckily, Long Shot is overflowing with charm which allows the viewer to surrender to its spell without paying much mind to the few rough patches. It’s definitely a film that could have benefited from some tightening (and also from scraping its fantasy heavy ending), but it plays very well nonetheless and is full of excellent supporting characters (like O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Andy Serkis, and Bob Odenkirk). The film definitely owes most of its success to its stars, lead and supporting, who bear a lot of the burden on their backs, but the very solid and fleshed out script gives its performers an excellent jumping off point. I really loved the trajectory of these characters and how even small things, like the aforementioned partial swastika tattoo, have a full arc.
Recommendation: If you love raunch-heavy rom-coms like Something About Mary and/or have an affinity for the political, you’ll probably find a lot to love here.
Rating: 4 shots outta 5.
What do you think? Did Rogen and Theron have good chemistry? Did the political elements blend well with the relationship bits? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!