Motownphilly’s back again, and what I mean by that is Seth Rogen teaming up with Evan Goldberg churning out another cool concept comedy, except this time it’s of the Rom-Com variety. It’s been 12 years since the mega hit of “Knocked Up” thrusted Rogen primely into the new “IT GUY” of Hollywood. Katherine Heigl stayed more in her lane, but Rogen used his awkward but loveable shlubiness to woo her on screen and us off it. With a care free chubby charm and peculiar brand of comedy, he diversified his roles going forward and took his career to new heights.
Coming back to this genre was a good move and teaming back up with director Jonathan Levine since there last film “50/50” was equally as smart. Upgrading from Katherine Heigl to Charlize Theron… a no brainer.
Fred Flarsky is a crass political journalist at a small DC paper whose stance against the establishment and particular brand of humor ruffles feathers at his job that when his paper gets bought by a sleazy media conglomerate, he refuses to play by the industry rules and quits. His longtime friend and closet Republican Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr) commits to give him the night of his life to shrug off the bad day. Luckily, the two end up at a swanky party headlined by Boys2Men and features a drop-in appearance by Fred’s childhood crush, Charlotte (Charlize Theron).
Sec. Charlotte Field is an overworked highly productive politician trying to balance a dwindling personal life with aspirations towards the oval office. New Jack Swing and other memories from their babysitting past reminds her of the person she wanted to be. Charlotte extends an opportunity to Fred to take on punch up/speech writing for her campaign.
The rocky road of each other’s perspective on life gets smoothed out over an organic infatuation and relationship to occur, that signals trouble to some of her staff and opens the door for Charlottes campaign, her morals and her and Fred’s relationship to be tested.
The themes in this film aren’t anything new. However, the approach is hilarious and timely. We’re in a very volatile, over sensitive, political climate that lends itself to all the satire. This isn’t that unconventional as the comedy stems from the romance. A rom-com typically gets scrutinized by the clichés and tropes of the genre and while there are several employed in this film, you’re charmed over by the performances, the great dialogue and direction that make this a very fun watch.
The first act delivers a well-paced character build of Charlotte Field as a highly capable Secretary of State who surprisingly keeps it altogether despite an overwhelming work schedule and peers who are disturbingly unaware about all that she does. Mostly it’s her boss who’s unaware and Levine could’ve went full parody with his direction of this film’s President played by Bob Odenkirk. Thankfully it veers away from an SNL sketch, yet still delivers stinging commentary on the ludicrous politics at play in DC. It’s a boy’s club for sure, and the title of the film would make you believe Charlotte is a true long shot. It’s not so much Charlotte who’s bid for the presidency seems farfetched, but Fred’s timid pursuit of her that is the real stretch. She’s the front runner all the way. She’s smart, beautiful and has the power of the polls in her favor.
The polls and numbers and stats and pretty much the opinions of everyone around her is what influences most of her decisions. The themes tackling opinion politics are powerful and add extra flavor to the plot without being heavy handed. Charlottes team and right-hand woman Maggie (June Diane Raphael) leads the way making sure she’s always aware of how things look and how the numbers bare out. Fred rejects and seeks to disrupt the system. He’s far from an anarchist but a pest enough to be an annoyance. Not to Charlotte though. She takes a particular interest in his wellbeing after that night they reconnected. This shake up in her routine is a welcomed change. So much so when Charlotte suggests hiring Fred, Maggie almost losses it.
The performances delivered by Rogen and Theron are amazing. Their comedic timing together and apart is effortless. Their tender moments together are organic and even though she is severely out of his league the reminder that Fred sees her not through the lens of political gain, but a longtime crush with high character ideals is what attracts her. Their relationship is sincere and laugh out loud hysterical. The supporting characters carve out great moments in their own right and round out the strong ensemble work. The commentary on cable news media is biting. The outright parody of one network in particular is a huge middle finger to everything they stand for and how they operate, and a big applause is owed to Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah for that.
Long Shot is the underdog rom-com we didn’t know we wanted. A tour de force for the cast who keep you laughing and a little grossed out from time to time just as you expect from a Rogen/Goldberg team up. A real fun watch with strong messages for everyone to takeaway especially those in DC.
KOLBYTOLDME RATING- 8/10
Directors: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Dan Sterling, Liz Hannah
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Ravi Patel
Run Time: 125 mins