LONG SHOT

Oh, Seth Rogen. The man that a lot of people seem to hate, but I absolutely love. He’s charismatic, has excellent comic timing and delivery, has great range, and is a screenwriter who cares about story as much as he does humor. He’s a guy I’ll always come out to support, because I feel like he puts his heart and soul into every film he does. While he doesn’t write everything he stars in, his positive influence can be felt whether he’s in the capacity of actor, writer, or producer. It’s been a long while since he’s been in a romantic comedy, though, and with Charlize Theron, no less, who knows how he and his crew could pull the story off?

Long Shot follows United States Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who decides to run for President in 2020, but her idealistic worldview constantly clashes with the political climate around her. She runs into recently unemployed journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), a schlubby loser who Charlotte knows from the distant past. Due to Fred’s writing ability, Charlotte brings him onto her campaign team to help write speeches. Fred is way in over his head, but he and Charlotte eventually strike up a romantic relationship.  As Charlotte campaigns around the country and performs her Secretary of State duties, she and Fred face issues with the public, press, government, and each other.

Theron and Rogen have wonderfully believable chemistry with each other, and their relationship both in the past and present made it all feel very genuine. Their polar opposite lives, yet similar tastes and interests, makes for some hilarious scenes, especially with Fred being way out of his element in a lot of situations. Charlotte travels all over the world to meet with other world leaders and Fred is there all along the way, even if he doesn’t fit in at all during a garish state dinner. It all came from the script, which is surprisingly good. This isn’t a Judd Apatow or Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg script, but instead written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. I’m not disparaging Apatow or Rogen/Goldberg, but there’s a lot less banter humor and more comedy from the characters and situations in the story. At first, I thought it was going to be predictable, but every element I thought would happen was completely subverted, sometimes in very surprising, but interesting ways. It added a lot of nuance to the political climate in the film and the characters that inhabit it. It’s also one of the best paced comedies I’ve seen in a while. At 120 minutes, I never felt the length, mostly because there’s a proper build up in the relationship. I think any comedy that goes over 100 minutes is really pushing its goodwill, but this all felt justified. Since it wasn’t as predictable, it was more interesting to see both the plot and relationship unfold. Director Jonathan Levine, who directed my favorite film of 2011 50/50, certainly knows how to juggle the comedic elements mixed with the occasional drama. 

As a lot of comedies with political elements usually go, there’s a heavy dose of political satire here, some of it a little too heavy. There’s an overarching theme of women being more scrutinized than men, which is true, but sometimes it felt too overt. However, I was impressed with the amount of depth it went into with the politics, especially in regards to the relationships between the characters. The primary conflict comes from Charlotte and Fred, with two polar opposite attitudes and ways of life. As expected, Charlotte is an incredibly busy woman and has a public image to uphold, which Fred takes nonchalantly with his windbreakers and cargo pants. However, they both actually learn something from each other when their issues come to a head. It’s a very sweet relationship to watch develop and the resolution is incredibly satisfying. Fred’s best friend, played by the hilarious O’Shea Jackson Jr., has some decent depth too and their friendship takes a turn in a very surprising way. It’s a good turn for the characters, though, and honestly, their friendship is something that every friendship should be. There’s an excellent supporting cast all around, especially the hilarious Lisa Kudrow in one scene, Bob Odenkirk as an idiotic President, and Andy Serkis in some truly grotesque prosthetics. The entire cast was perfectly utilized.

While I was certainly expecting Long Shot to be a laugh riot for me and have a lot of heart, I wasn’t expecting it to have as much depth as it did. The romance is of course what the story is all about, but all of the political elements and relationships between the various characters made it feel like a very complete movie. I wasn’t just laughing at all of the dialogue and situations, but legitimately interested in all of the subplots and impressed by the political nuance. As far as romantic comedies go, it’s funny and has a romance that feel real. As far as political satires go, it’s respectful and even challenges you a bit. Combine those together for a pleasantly surprising comedy. 

9/10

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