Long Shot - 2019
Director(s): Jonathan Levine
Writer(s): Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah (screenplay) / Dan Sterling (story)
Cinematography by: Yves Bélanger
Editor(s): Melissa Bretherton and Evan Henke
Cast: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis and Alexander Skarsgård
RomComs are on the rise again in Hollywood, and there is nothing any of you can do about it - outside of stop going to the theaters and giving them money... - 2019 already saw a couple released on Netflix and Isn't it Romantic in theaters. Now it is Seth Rogen, and Charlize Theron's turn to dip their toes in the genre in Jonathan Levine's (50/50, Warm Bodies) politically laced vehicle, Long Shot, that upholds the tropes fans have come to love while updating them for the times where a woman is not defined by the partner they choose in the end. Let's talk about it.
The story follows Secretary of State, Charlotte Field (Theron), one of the most influential women in the world, despite the constant focus by the media on her physical appearance. When she learns that the current president, a former TV actor, will not seek re-election - she jumps at the opportunity of realizing her lifelong dream, running and becoming president of the United States of America. Her team lets her know that according to the polls she would benefit from being funnier because it is not about what you do it is how the public perceives you - after reuniting with Fred (Rogen), a journalist and a former neighbor she babysat, she hires him to be her speechwriter. Fred in the process of getting to know her better, to capture her voice, falls in love with her, and ultimately so does Charlotte. And a romcom ensues.
I was pleasantly surprised by the restraint shown throughout this film - as I was worried it would diverge into the typical Rogen comedy where more is more. Not that I am not a fan of many of his movies, but they have become a bit tiresome when you are on your thirtieth version of the same dick joke. Hannah and Sterling's script creates a balance between the political satire, that leans more left but finds ways to point the finger at the left as well, and the cheesiness that is warm and familiar in romcoms. There are a lot of very clever jokes woven in throughout that showcases how hard it is for a woman in power to not only sustain said power but do not fall in the traps society has accepted without question. My favorite running joke was the political commentators openly denigrating her on live TV - as it perfectly mirrors many of our current media outlets. The relationships are hit or miss in my eyes, but the main one and the most important one (Charlotte and Fred) works, and it helped sell the idea of their relationship.
Levine kept the story moving, despite the clunky opening - the neo-Nazi sequence had me worried where we were headed, but the film bounces back as soon as Charlotte and Fred reunite. There are a few stylistic sequences that break up the standard over the shoulder shots that make up most of the runtime. Charlize Theron proves that she continues to be one of the best actors working today - as I for not a single second doubted her attraction to Seth Rogen. I know it reads as a burn to Rogen, but even he will be the first one to admit this to be true. Rogen, as I said above, shows restraint and gives a bit of nuance to his performance, which is a breath of fresh air. They had fantastic chemistry and genuinely funny banter. June Diane Raphael is excellent in her staple role of the sharp tongue side-character that will destroy anyone trying to test her or her friends. O'Shea Jackson Jr. is underused and never really gelled with Rogen despite them being sold as lifelong friends.
Long Shot is a fun RomCom with enough political satire and bending of the genre tropes to justify its existence in our current societal climate. Charlize Theron is funny, charming and vulnerable showcasing another side to her range that further cements her as one of the best of her generation. If you are looking for a lovely time, and a break from the end of the world destruction of all the superhero flicks, Long Shot is worth a shot (sorry).
Long Shot is Glass Half Full.
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