Director: Jonathan Levine
Screenplay: Dan Sterling & Liz Hannah
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson, Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis
BBFC Classification: 15
In the age of the big-budget superhero flick, the humble rom-com is a rarely seen beast in mainstream cinema, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see this entry into the genre from producer/star Seth Rogen and co-producer Evan Goldberg, which mixes in a dab of stoner slapstick and political giggles for good measure.
Fred Flarsky (Rogen) has walked away from his job as a columnist for a left-leaning political news website that has sold out to a big-name publisher, when a chance meeting with his high school crush, Charlotte Field (Theron) changes the course of his career. She’s now the Vice President of the USA, on the verge of announcing her decision to run for president and decides to use Flarsky’s political writing skills to punch up her speeches. As they get to know each other, romance blooms but an insidious streak of outside influencers plan to use her relationship against her to derail her politics.
On the page, Long Shot looks like standard fare; boy meets girl, boy starts to write speeches for girl, they fall in love. It’s the chemistry between Rogen and Theron that makes the story spark here, from their initial chalk and cheese personalities, to the emerging similarities and ways in which they both educate and liberate each other from their respective status quo’s, this is a genuinely charming film. The humour manages to balance political and pop culture references with Rogen’s trademark gross-out laughs (a webcam mishap in particular is a standout here) to surprising effect, but the political satire never quite manages to land as well as the more standard comedy.
While there are certainly digs at modern celebrity politics, from the wonderfully cast Bob Odenkirk as the incumbent President Chambers, a former actor who’s entire schtick is derived from the character he played in a West Wing style tv series, to the asides about media and business influence in politics as well as casual misogyny, the story never fully feels like it manages to unsheath its claws. Veep this is not, and the script prefers to focus on its themes of romance in a high pressure environment, as well as an exploration of integrity vs ambition, which seems a shame given some of the subtext it sets up early on.
It’s a good job it’s such a fun watch, then, with Rogen and Theron admirably supported by a fantastic cast. Odenkirk is absolutely in his element as a comedian and it’s a joy to see him playing such a buffoon after a string of recent dramatic roles, June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel are great as Charlotte’s aide’s while O’Shea Jackson plays the small but essential role of Flarsky’s best friend Lance. As with most productions of this type, the script is largely played loose with ad-libbing and riffing all over the place and the entire cast hold their own well against the heavy-hitting Rogen, especially a wonderfully scene-chewing Andy Serkis, unrecognisable underneath heavy prosthetics as the sleazy Parker Wembley, owner of the media conglomerate that forces Flarsky out of his job.
While it’s a shame that there’s not as much bite to the politics, and the film doesn’t entirely nail the landing in a 100% satisfying way, Long Shot is still a genuinely sweet and funny comedy to crash in front of on a Friday night.
- All’s Fair in Love & Politics: Making Long Shot
- Seven Minutes in Heaven: Seth + Charlize Uncensored
- Secret Weapons
- Epic Flarsky Falls
- Prime Minister Steward O-Rama
- Hanging with Boyz II Men
- Just Kinda Crushing It!
- The First Mister: A Portrait
- An Imperfect Union
- Love & Politics
- Friends Like These
There’s certainly a surprising amount of depth and honesty to the extras which go further than the standard EPK fare you might expect, and it’s great to see not only a fun look behind the scenes on the production, but also a healthy amount of alternate takes and deleted scenes which is always good for this type of ad-lib comedy.