Long Shot Mostly Hits the Mark
Chris Kavan - wrote on 07/22/19
If you asked me to pair up a male and female lead for a romance/political comedy - I can guess about a thousand combos I would have thought of before Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. But despite this crazy matchup, Long Shot is quite fun - and about halfway believable.
How does one go about pairing these two? It turns out Theron - the popular Secretary of State Charlotte Field to a wildly unqualified president, played by a perfectly preening Bob Odenkirk, in a none-too-veiled jab at the MAGA-in-chief, is hoping to make her own run at the presidency and hopes to gain the support of the president even while pushing her own ambitious environmental plan. Meanwhile, Rogen is a recently out-of-work journalist Fred Flarsky, who can do nothing as his left-leaning publication is bought out by a ruthless corporation run by Parker Wembley (a highly-aged makeup Andy Serkis - probably a cipher for the disgraced Roger Ailes). Rogen's friend, Lance (a laid-back O'Shea Jackson Jr.) hopes to cheer him up by taking him to a party, featuring Boyz II Men. It just so happens, Field is at this same party - one-time babysitter to Fred, who felt some connection even after a highly-embarrassing moment. It turns out Field remembers him as well, and against the advice of her advisers Maggie Millikin (June Diane Raphael) and Tom (Ravi Patel) she hires him to help punch up her speeches.
Thus Fred and Charlotte embark on a a cross-country tour promoting her environmental plan. The film plays off the rather rigid demeanor of Theron to the more free-wheeling Rogen - it's especially fun to watch him try to catch her up to recent pop culture - while also sprinkling in plenty of 90s nostalgia along the way. And when the two begin getting intimate - it actually doesn't feel too forced. It's still hard to believe in my head - but they actually have decent chemistry and it works, for the most part. Of course, there has to be something that forces them apart at some point - at first it's Charlotte's lack of conviction and later some under-handed blackmail - but a last-minute twist turns everything on its head.
Make no mistake, the film earns its R-rating - from jokes to more, let's say physical, humor, it's adult all the way. Rogen doesn't stray too far away from his usual roles - although he does seem a bit more refined here (still a bit of a stoner dude - but a respectable stoner dude). Theron is much more fun to watch, going from studious politician, to fun-loving party girl to hung-over negotiator (one of the best scenes in the film as she has to figure out how to free a hostage while still feeling the effects of Ecstasy). There is also a nice aside featuring the Canadian Prime Minister James Steward (Alexander Skarsgård in an obvious comparison to Justin Trudeau) - the photogenic and available man her advisers want her to be seen with. But Serkis really steals the show as Wembley, proving once again the master of disguise is worth every hour of makeup he has to go through.
Long Shot may play things pretty safe, but for all the awkward moments there shines some sweet emotion and if you want a fun, raunchy date movie, well, this will do the trick.