Long Shot (2019)
Director: Jonathan Levine | Runtime: 2h 5mins | Comedy, Romance
Jobless and passionate writer Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) runs into his old babysitter, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is now the Secretary of State. Much to the dismay of her team, Charlotte hires Fred to help with her speeches in the build to her run for President.
As a genre, Rom-Com’s often becomes one rehash after another, all following similar trajectories to a feel-good finale that, while breaking no boundaries, tug at the heart strings and give you a sense of romanticism like no other. In the case of Levine’s latest addition to the genre, it follows the same trajectory. But what sets a film apart is what’s filling the story and what you take from it, and Long Shot has enough voice to set it aside from the rest.
Despite following a formula, the most important part of Long Shot is it’s presence. With the likes of the #MeToo movement really ushering in change in Hollywood, it’s so refreshing to see a film that isn’t ignoring or saturising it for the sake of making money. Not only that, but with added political humour in the form of an idiotic president (Bob Odenkirk is on full form), it really hits home just how aware this film is of America’s current situation. With hints of commentary of environmentalism, individualism and religion as well, the film can sometimes get overwhelmed in it’s messages, but for the most part it still sticks to it’s female driven story with a political edge.
It’s no secret that Seth Rogen is meant to be the funny man in pretty much every film of his career, and it’s no different here. In fact the first two major jokes of the film both come from Rogen suffering physical injury, one involving stairs and the other in the films opening scene, as Rogen jumps out of a window to avoid Neo-Nazi’s. And while it fits well with Fred Flarsky’s self-deprecating personality, these are throw-away jokes that don’t really hold much levity in comparison to the rest of the film. In fact, the funniest scene of the entire film is watching Charlize Theron’s Secretary of State attempt to negotiate with terrorists while under the influence of drugs. It propels the story, and just adds to the layered, and fantastic, performance from Charlize Theron.
Unsurprisingly, out of the two leads Charlize Theron is the shining star. With Hannah & Sterling’s words trying to really bring out the film’s female characters in a positive light, Theron grasps at this chance to really show just how empowering and genuinely funny she can be. While Charlize Theron’s performance is not surprising at all, what is surprising is the chemistry that the two leading actors have with each other. For the bulk of the film we see these two disputing over youthful nostalgia, reminiscing about high school and forming a natural connection over time, leaving this mismatch pairing feeling authentic and honest. And while one performance may be better than the other, romance is always about the relationship between two people, and the pairing of Rogen and Theron feels spot on.
While the film starts without a specific voice, it eventually leads to a voice that can, and will, be heard for a long time. Long Shot may not reach the perfection of formula like the classic When Harry Met Sally (1989), or the charm of Screwball comedies, but it’s a film for the 21st Century that doesn’t see current issues as a passing fad, but embraces them to make this film a conscious effort.