‘Long Shot’: a Dark-Horse Political Rom-Com Winner
OK, look, I was skeptical, too. A Seth Rogen political romantic comedy? And he’s paired up with Charlize Theron? I know, I know. But Long Shot brings the laughs and it brings the heart. Plus, it shows off Theron’s criminally underrated comedic chops.
LONG SHOT ★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Written by: Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah
Starring: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel
Running time: 125 min
As the title implies, the story from writers Dan Sterling, Liz Hannah, and gross-out comedy director Jonathan Levine is a feel-good romp about going for it. Go talk to your childhood crush when you spot her at a party. Go for that promotion, which just happens to be the President of the whole dang United States of America. What could go wrong?
Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), a gonzo political journalist, finds himself spiraling after losing his job. He spots Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) the Secretary of State, at a fancy soiree while he’s on a bender with his best friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). Charlotte was his babysitter when he was a kid, and he always had a crush on her. Undeterred by her new elite station in life and the fact that she’s grown up to be as attractive as Charlize Theron, Fred approaches her and is encouraged that she remembers him.
They reconnect later when Charlotte sees an opportunity to throw her hat into the ring for a run at the presidency. She needs a speechwriter, so sure, why not just hire the last guy you met who writes? All writers are the same. Of course, the close proximity, the long hours, and the shared background lead to a seemingly inexplicable romance between Fred and Charlotte. Owing much to the chemistry between Rogen and Theron, Long Shot manages believability thanks to a heartfelt story with lots of laughs against the hellish backdrop of current American politics.
It’s not surprising that a thoughtful, deconstructive rom-com like this comes from Levine, who gave us Warm Bodies, a zombie rom-com that arrived when such a thing was still a novel idea.
Long Shot similarly endears itself by turning tropes and criticisms of tropes on their heads. The film posits that the recent backlash against schlubby male characters in relationships with stunning female characters, for all its virtue signaling, is problematic in itself. A powerful, attractive woman doesn’t need to fulfill anyone’s expectations but her own in choosing a partner. The journey Fred and Charlotte take together illustrates this point beautifully.
The political commentary of the film also stems directly from the outward pressures Fred and Charlotte face because they seem like an odd pair. Appearances are all bullshit, especially in the political world. So why don’t we want people who are genuinely comfortable in their own skin and are happy in their relationships in leadership roles? Why do we end up with candidates vying for our support who look and act like aliens that can’t relate to us no matter how desperately they try?
If you could use a laugh in these trying times, and want to feel a little bit more optimistic about the political world in the process, Long Shot should get your vote. Enter your local polling place, but only if it happens to be a movie theater, on May 3rd.