As the tagline for Long Shot states that the romantic pairing of Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron is “unlikely but not impossible”, Jonathan Levine’s crowd-pleasing comedy manages to organically project an intimate union between the two, utilizing the duo’s charm and comedic flair to their fullest potential.
Very much a film that lives and dies off the chemistry of its leads, Long Shot‘s outlandish premise bases itself around left-leaning (and recently unemployed) journalist Fred Flarsky (Rogen) and Secretary of State, and hopeful 2020 Presidential candidate, Charlotte Field (Theron), the two thrust together when she hires him to be her speechwriter. Trusting Fred’s biting wit off their school history together – we learn that some 25-years prior she was his babysitter – Charlotte’s popularity continues to rise thanks to her endearing speeches, and through the copious amount of time spent together on her new campaign trail, an inconceivable (but no less true) romance develops between the two.
As much as the film is selling itself as a rom-com of sorts though, the Dan Sterling (The Interview)/Liz Hannah (The Post)-penned script succeeds as a workplace laugher in the lead-up to the inevitable romantic union, treating the characters of Fred and Charlotte as real people. The situation is far-fetched but there’s sincerity in their actions, and the film doesn’t favour one character over the other, allowing us to understand their respective motivations when their behaviour is questioned.
Given that it does eventually shift towards the expected beats of the romantic comedy, it’s a testament to director Levine (50/50, The Night Before) that he hones the familiar in a manner that feels more fresh. The genre isn’t being subverted but the material on hand is so incredibly strong that we are completely willing to go along with it, aided particularly by the bold Theron who so rarely gets to flex her comedic muscle on screen, here proving herself an ample comedienne; one highlight sequence involves her character having to negotiate the release of a terrorist whilst still under the influence of MDMA.
In addition to the comedic prowess of Theron, Long Shot serves up a horde of strong support from its game and able cast, with June Diane Raphael particularly great as one of Charlotte’s lead staff, Bob Odenkirk as the current President who’s looking to alleviate his post and seek a career in film, and an amusing turn from Alexander Skarsgard as a Canadian PM with a peculiar laugh.
At over 2 hours it’s easy to accuse the film of overstaying its welcome, but even with its somewhat bloated running time Long Shot is undoubtedly the year’s funniest offering yet. With a slight political mindset that hones a sense of intelligence that connects it to a reality we’re all too accustomed to, as well as serving a comedic and romantic temperament that should appeal to genre enthusiasts, Long Shot proves a broad winner, even when siphoned through the filter of a typical Seth Rogen comedy.