HomeMovies'Long Shot' Review: Seth Rogen & Charlize Theron's Political Rom-Com Enters the...

‘Long Shot’ Review: Seth Rogen & Charlize Theron’s Political Rom-Com Enters the Race for Comedy of the Year

Long Shot
Photo Credit: Philippe Bossé

There’s a running joke in Long Shot referencing how difficult it is for TV stars to transition to movie stardom. Their answers: Woody Harrelson and George Clooney. Not Jennifer Aniston, though, because “just because you star in movies doesn’t make you a movie star.”

I’ll pose another difficult brand to shake off: the pothead star. Few have been able to go from stoner comedies onto the A-list as a reputable artist. James Franco makes up the entire list. Maybe Jonah Hill. But perhaps his buddy Seth Rogen would be added to the list if only Take This Waltz and 50/50 were recognized by more people (at least, more than his Superbad and Knocked Up roles). Now, Rogen re-teams with The Night Before director Jonathan Levine for a romantic political comedy in which he yet again plays a man-child stoner to complete their trilogy.

That’s not to knock Rogen or Long Shot. It’s some of his best work to date–and if there is a redefining role, that will come via Newsflash later this year–but it doesn’t do him any favors with his perception despite allowing him to show more range as a physical comedian with passionate monologues. His co-star, Charlize Theron, sits in the opposite camp. Known as a cover girl with dramatic chops, she’s made strides in comedy in the past couple years, but this is her most successful attempt, playing off Rogen’s charm with equal fervor. She gets the chance to show what she’d be like in any of Rogen’s defining films while still embodying grace.

Long Shot was initially named Flarsky, consequently implying the story is mainly about Fred Flarsky (Rogen), a journalist that’s not only willing to quit his job because his company is bought out by a media conglomerate, but who will go undercover with white nationalists and get a swastika tattoo to get the story—something expertly revisited as another running gag, blending jokes with deep development. But the movie is equally about Charlotte Field (Theron), the Secretary of State to the sitting president (Bob Odenkirk) that won the election after receiving seven Emmy nominations for playing a fictional president. What an unbelievable timeline!

Not only is Charlotte a high-level politician but she’s looking to make her bid for the next presidential election, but to do so, she needs to bump up her image with more humor in her speeches. Enter Flarsky, who as it turns out, used to have Charlotte as a babysitter when he was 13 years old. When they cross paths at a party featuring Boyz II Men, Charlotte begins to consider hiring Flarsky to help punch up her speeches.

Through a series of by-the-book globe-trotting sequences, not only does the professional relationship develop, but so does a romantic interest that was only in 13-year-old Flarsky’s dreams. There may be some questionable politics if it’s read as a man-child saving the day for a strong woman that still can’t get her fair shake in the world, but that should be canceled out with the introduction of Alexander Skarsgard as the charming Canadian prime minister. Again, what a strange timeline!

He and Charlotte would make the ultimate power couple, and the tabloids eat up their flirtatious encounters. But he doesn’t provide any support beyond a physical attraction, whereas Flarsky’s strong moral code and natural interest in Charlotte empowers both her and him. It’s a symbiotic relationship that defies the elite, runs past the mundane, and flies in the face of normalcy just like the movie itself.

Rarely (if ever) has a film combined romance and the dirty game of world diplomacy with raunchy comedy so well. It’s not all sex jokes or drugs, but they do run parallel with the outrageous political landscape that’s just as offensive to the senses. Co-written by Liz Hanna (The Post) and Dan Sterling (The Daily Show), it’s as smart as it is funny, creating a world not dissimilar from ours, complete with Fox & Friends-esque commentary and overly reactionary coverage in general. One scene involving Charlotte working a hostage crisis while on molly sums up all of this in one brilliant stroke. And they’re not afraid to turn the screws on its heroes either, particularly Flarsky who doesn’t even know his best friend (O’Shea Jackson) is an evangelical Republican because the culture is so fractured and biased to otherness.

Firing more than a joke a minute and complete with an all-star cast that can turn even the most mundane into farce, we have an early frontrunner for the comedy of the year.

Rating: 8/10

Long Shot premiered at SXSW, and hits theaters nationally on May 3.



Comments are closed.

Most Recent

Stay Connected