The latest crowd pleaser from SXSW, Long Shot represents a grand return for Seth Rogen to the romantic comedy genre, which helped to establish him as a leading comedian (Knocked Up, Zack and Miri Make a Porno). It also continues the hot streak in Charlize Theron’s career, which has recently featured memorable turns in Tully and Atomic Blonde. But the two of them, together, as a couple? That’s the new idea featured here, and safe to say, it works like gangbusters.
Charlotte Field (Theron) is the highly professional and accomplished Secretary of State to the current President (Bob Odenkirk), a television actor turned politician. With the President having decided to not pursue re-election, Charlotte is eyeing a 2020 presidential campaign. However, she’s in need of a writer to punch up her speeches and make her more appealing to the general public. The solution may be the boy she used to babysit, journalist Fred Flarsky (Rogen). Unemployed due to his own stubbornness, the chance to write for Charlotte is the perfect opportunity for Fred. As they tour the world for Charlotte’s environmental initiative, Fred realizes that he still has feelings for her beyond his boyhood crush – and she realizes that Fred might just be the man for her.
Despite their budding romance, they must face quite a few challenges on the way, including meddlesome staff who believe that she’s out of his league, international affairs, nasty old billionaires (Andy Serkis), and Charlotte’s own honesty and integrity. Can they stick together, or will Fred be unwilling to compromise both politically and personally? And with Charlotte’s future on the line, she’s not ready to follow Fred’s lifestyle of stubbornness and refusal to compromise.
What happens during the international tour and afterwards is absolutely predictable, but the pleasure comes from watching Rogen and Theron interact. They’ve got great chemistry, which may come as a bit of a surprise to some viewers. She’s calm and collected, he’s loud and opinionated. Watching their distinct personalities bounce off each other leads to the majority of the film’s biggest laughs, including one scene where the characters get wasted at a Parisian night club. The sweetness of their romance is genuinely appealing as well. When they dance together to “It Must’ve Been Love” from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, you truly believe they’re in love.There’s also some solid comedy provided by Fred’s best friend, Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Field’s two staff assistants (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel).
Where Long Shot falls flat is the excessive length of the story, and the lazier pop culture references and cheap humor. The sexual content may be funny, but only for a few moments. For an inherently political story, it feels oddly apolitical: the Trump connections to this film’s President are made, but there’s no real digging into any of that, or even what party Charlotte belongs to. These may sound like superficial issues, but in this highly volatile time we live in, it’s surprising that the film only uses international politics as window dressing to the romance (and Rogen is no stranger to dealing with controversy, as The Interview proved the hard way for Sony Pictures).
A new update to the tried-and-true Hollywood formula of romantic comedies, Long Shot is a likable, laid-back film that will entertain you for two hours – but don’t expect it to linger on your mind for long.
Long Shot opens nationwide in the US on May 3rd, 2019.