Published on May 3rd, 2019 | by Dan Nicholls0
We aren’t getting much in the realm of comedies in today’s world of franchise filmmaking, but Long Shot is a distraction mostly worth your time.
It isn’t exactly “Beauty and the Beast” but the quote-un-quote “unlikely” pairing of Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron, as two lovers destined for a quirky whirlwind romance, is undeniably charming as hell. They’re so cute together that you absolutely root for them along every derivative step of the rom-com plot that director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before) navigates with relative success. Too much unnecessary raunchy humor grades the film’s IQ considerably lower than its outstanding EQ but Long Shot is still an overall delight.
Fred Flarsky is a slightly sub-competent man-child with many traits you might recognize from a previous Seth Rogen character or two. He’s also a savagely sharp journalist trying to survive in a sadly familiar world gone mad. After his publication is bought out by the creepy Roger Ailes-stand-in Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis) and Flarsky quits in protest, a chance encounter with his old babysitter-turned-Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) takes his life in an unexpected direction where love slowly begins to bloom.
The romance that develops between Flarsky and Field is shocking to her omnipresent staff members (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel) that feel stuck in a movie from the early aughts. A Fox News substitute pops in intermittently with commentary that is grossly over-the-top and takes the film to a plane of parody that it would have been better off avoiding. These attempts to skewer the American right-wing just flail as weak jabs. Flarsky’s best friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) is an undying optimist and the movie’s secret weapon. The spawn of Ice Cube is hilarious and endearing – the movie could’ve used more of him and the young actor makes a solid showcase for a run as a leading man himself.
It comes as a welcome surprise that Rogen turns out to hit his peak moments when he’s playing it straight as the romantic lead. His earnest heart shines through his sweetly charming eyes and it feels like a waste when the film aims for low blows and pratfalls. It would be great to see the actor get to do less of the talking-screaming stuff and more of the quiet, intimate moments that shine here. Rogen is a solid dramatic performer, as he proved in Steve Jobs (which is a movie you absolutely need to see even if you think you don’t). Displaying a newfound ability to convincingly woo audiences will hopefully open the door to more unexplored performance avenues in the future.
Long Shot is ultimately a satisfying crowd-pleaser that hits all the right notes in the moment but doesn’t necessarily demand to be revisited again in three months’ time. The jokes are more hit than miss and the romance is sweet – toss in two truly winning leads and you’ve got yourself a nice date night at the movies. But if you’re strapped on cash after your seventh Endgame viewing it’ll play just as nicely at home, where it will undoubtedly be available in just a few short months.