Film Review: “Long Shot” balances romance, comedy, and a little bit of righteous anger
Some films reflect the zeitgeist, effectively functioning as entertaining vessels that take you through whatever is plaguing our moment in time. This new rom-com, Long Shot, starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron as the appealing leads with terrific chemistry, is such a film. Sure, its “opposites attract rom-com” formula" has been there since time immemorial; he’s a shclubby working class guy slurping tequila from a plastic bag for lunch, she’s a flawless looking and poised powerhouse politician.
But in this case, Rogen’s brand of dopey raunchy humour is matched by an undercurrent of genuinely sardonic bitterness toward political power structures upheld by vile corporate lobbyists. And Bob Odenkirk plays a vain president who wants to leave politics behind to pursue a career as a tv personality – an amusingly exact reversal of the current problem in the White House. You could call this the first post Trump rom-com.
With a movie this obviously crowd-pleasing and fantastical in its Love-Conquers-All narrative, it’s unusually “hip” about its anger, I guess, because anger has never been more relevant than it is right now. It’s as political as it is romantic. Director Jonathan Levine and writers Liz Hannah and Don Sterling have done good work here.
Charlize Theron plays Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State vying for the candidacy of President of the United States. Cue some clever commentary about female candidates having to precisely mold their personalities in order to be likeable (whatever that means to whoever the heck). So she enlists in the help of Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) as her speechwriter, an abrasive and insanely neurotic journalist committed to his craft (the opening scene finds him not so successfully infiltrating a white supremacist meeting).
Though an unlikely pairing at the start – Rogen seems particularly jittery and on edge in Theron’s regal presence, for reasons that are best discovered when you watch the flick -- they develop a genuinely pleasing rapport along the way. And of course they get into some pretty hilariously hardcore situations, such as negotiating a hostage situation while buzzing on ecstasy. The movie is filled with unexpectedly half tense/half hilarious scenarios like that, perhaps in an effort to spice up the familiar story. It mostly works.
Even when the story is treading well-worn territory, Rogen and Theron are so authentic and lively together that you don’t care you know exactly where it’s going, you’re just happy to be along for the ride.