Long Shot, 2019.
Directed by Jonathan Levine.
Starring Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, and Alexander Skarsgard.
When Fred Flarsky reunites with his first crush, one of the most influential women in the world, Charlotte Field, he charms her. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly.
Seth Rogen has had a long and interesting relationship with SXSW and Austin’s Paramount Theater, debuting hysterical work-in-progress cuts of such films as Sausage Party and The Disaster Artist. This year he’s back with revenge, bringing not one but two films, the R-rated comedy starring 11-year-olds Good Boys, and Long Shot, a romantic comedy that’s a cross between Notting Hill and Veep.
Directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), Long Shot stars Charlize Theron as Charlotte Field, the current Secretary of State aspiring to become the first female President of the United States. Meanwhile, Seth Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, a down on his luck idealistic journalist with a ton of opinions and no regard for how to express them properly – one of his most famous headlines reads “Why The Two-Party System Can Suck A Dick”. The two meet when the current POTUS, a former TV star played by Bob Odenkirk, decides to opt out of reelection to pursue a movie career, and Charlotte is advised to hire comedy writers to spice up her speeches. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that a 16-year-old Charlotte used to babysit 13-year-old Fred.
The script by Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling doesn’t offer much insight into the world of politics other than how terribly shady it is, and how hard it is for women to break into politics, but that doesn’t matter because the film is funny as hell. Offhand gags worthy of a Seth Rogen film range from Fred’s terrible taste in clothing when meeting powerful politicians, Swedish attire looking like a matador, half of a swastika tattoo, and more hilarious bits.
While the movie doesn’t directly tell you that Theron’s character is based on Hilary Clinton, most characters are similar enough to make it easy to tell who they’re supposed to be. Andy Serkis plays an impressively evil and funny Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, while Alexander Skarsgård sinks his teeth into playing this world’s version of part-time Internet Boyfriend / part-time Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – and having the time of his life playing a dorky type with a Canadian accent. And of course Bob Odenkirk brilliantly plays the role of the stupidest president in the world, a man so obsessed with himself he watches clips of his old shows while sitting in the oval office. He says he wants to join the ranks of the only two TV stars to succeed in movies, Woody Harrelson and George Clooney (the movie then takes a shot at Jennifer Aniston that is probably the best bit in a comedy this year).
The acting is fantastic. Seth Rogen does the same insecure and lovable dork we know and love, but it works so well when he’s matched by Theron. While we have seen her do comedy before (from the dark-comedy Tully to her fantastic guest run on Arrested Development) she hasn’t done a romantic comedy, but she plays Charlotte like she’s been preparing for this her entire life. She is cool, confident, sexy, and the perfect straight man to Rogen’s goofball, and the two have great chemistry together. Not to be left behind, a standout performance is given by O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Fred’s far more confident and successful best friend with a couple of hilarious secrets of his own and an arsenal of one-liners.
While Long Shot doesn’t reinvent the rom-com wheel, it doesn’t matter. Rogen and Theron have wonderful chemistry, are surrounded by a stellar supporting cast, and aided by a delightful script that make this a feel-good and hilarious comedy.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★