The new Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron film "Long Shot" is more of a political satire than it is a straight-up rom-com, but - against all odds - it somehow works.
Seth Rogen is used to being cast as the unattractive nice guy. Charlize Theron, the nearly perfect beauty (OK, except for "Monster"). But they team up to make an unlikely comedic and romantic pairing in the new comedy "Long Shot." The title of course, applies to Rogen's chances of ever making it with someone as gorgeous as Theron, but it also applies to what their characters are pursuing over the course of the film.
Theron stars as Charlotte Field, a business-first kind of woman who is currently the Secretary of State for a Donald Trump-ish President (played pitch-perfectly by "Better Call Saul"'s Bob Odenkirk). When President Chambers (Odenkirk) secretly reveals to her that he is not going to seek re-election in order to pursue an acting career in the movies, Charlotte sees her chance. With the President's endorsement, she'd be on the fast-track to becoming the first female President of the United States of America.
Elsewhere, Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is an investigative journalist working for a "real" newspaper...that is, until a huge media conglomerate, headed by the slimy mogul Parkey Wembley (an unrecognizable Andy Serkis, under layers of prosthetics) buys them out. Out of a job, Flarsky happens to run into Charlotte at a rich soiree that his best pal Lance (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) gets him into. Charlotte, it turns out, used to be Flarsky's babysitter back in the day...and Flarsky just hopes that she doesn't recall a very embarrassing moment the two shared in his old kitchen (and thanks to flashbacks, the audience gets to experience it). He's hired on to her speech-writing team, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What comes next can only happen in the movies, and it's something you'll feel you've seen time and time again, although this time the gender roles flip around: The attractive, powerful woman falls for the nerdy, awkward man. The two try to reconcile their feelings for one another, while at the same time trying to conceal their romance from the general public, who just wouldn't understand...polling numbers show that people just don't see Charlotte Field with anyone but an equally attractive partner, maybe like Canadian Prime Minister James Steward (Alexander Skarsgard).
The premise is obviously a bit worn, and some of the dialogue and jokes fall flat, but something makes "Long Shot" work. Maybe it's the deliciously entertaining side characters, like Skarsgark, Odenkirk and Serkis, but also from Ravi Patel and especially June Diane Raphael, who are tremendously effective in their roles as assistants to Ms. Field.
But what I think works best of all, is the sharp political stabs that the movie takes...this movie aligns much more closely with "Wag the Dog" than it does "Pretty Woman." They manage to slyly examine the politics within politics, and about how certain compromises are made, or not made. Where Flarsky learns to be a bit more flexible in his beliefs, Field learns that she must be more rigid when it comes to hers. They help each other succeed, the way it should be in these sort of movies.
"Long Shot" isn't a great movie by a long shot, but it is funny - and smart - enough, to keep you in the game.
Genre: Comedy, Romance.
Run Time: 2 hours 5 minutes.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis, Alexander Skarsgard, Randall Park.
Directed by Jonathan Levine ("Snatched," "The Night Before," "50/50," "Warm Bodies," "The Wackness").
"Long Shot" opens in theaters everywhere, Friday, May 3rd, 2019.
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