Long Shot feels like a movie that was written by a group of teenage boys hanging out in a basement. A schlubby male fantasy filled with stoner jokes, gross out gags, and a love story about a beautiful, successful woman saving a vulgar, out of shape, down-on-his-luck writer. Luckily, thanks to few funny moments and terrific performances by Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen, Long Shot feels more like a misfire than a complete dud.
Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is an over-worked politician with hopes of moving up in the political world. When President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk), a former T.V. actor-turned-President, decides he will be forgoing a run in 2020 because he wants to make the jump to movies, he informs Charlotte that he will give her his endorsement if she decides to run. Before Charlotte makes her announcement to run for President, she realizes she needs someone to help punch up her speeches to make her more relatable. She hires Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), who just happens to be the kid she used to babysit back in high school. Fred is a vulgar political journalist who would go above and beyond for a story, even if it meant getting a Swastika tattooed on his Jewish body. When Fred quits his publication after they are bought out by a Fox News-like company, he finds himself out of a job and takes the writing gig for Charlotte. While on their political journey across the world, sparks begin to fly between the two while Charlotte’s bid for presidency hits a few bumps.
What makes Long Shot at all redeemable is the cast, who are all on point. Theron rules. The arc of her character isn’t the greatest and there are moments in the movie that wouldn’t work with a lesser actress, but Theron knocks it out of the park. She has a number of great scenes, but her negotiation scene is legendary and the highlight of the film. Already one of our finest actresses, it is great to see her let loose a little bit and show a different side. She balances comedy and political drama well and I would watch a movie about Charlotte Field any day of the week. Rogen is also very good here. Though he does slip into his typical stoner-fare every so often, he nails the slapstick physical comedy and is actually best during the sweeter, quieter moments with Theron. The two have endless chemistry together and I would love to see them work together in the future. The supporting cast Odenkirk, O’shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Alexander Skarsgård, and an unrecognizable Andy Serkis are all great and keep the film going during its lesser times.
I wish the excellent cast was utilized in a better movie, because the film has its fair share of issues. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments in the movie that made me laugh and there are moments in the movie that will make you laugh. But there are issues beneath the laughs. First of all, the film is too long. Running just over two hours, this movie could have easily cut a half hour and the film would have been more effective overall. There are also a number of crass jokes about sex and drugs that take away from the sweetness of the romance and intrigue of the
politics. The final third of the film, in which a video of Fred performing a sexual act on himself surfaces on the internet, feels really out of place in this film. This was a really immature route to go and really highlights the idea that maybe a group of teenagers really did write this movie. It is possible to make a comedy and not resort to these kind of jokes.
The mix of politics and romance is a great idea, but neither part is fully developed. A romance film about Rogen and Theron would have turned into a Knocked Up 2 of sorts, which wouldn’t have been the most original idea, but also might not have been a bad idea. However, the romance becomes rather formulaic and at the end and you know exactly where it is going to go. The most interesting piece of the film, and the one I actually wanted to see play out, was the idea of a politician and political writer on the trail together. Fred thinks he knows how the game works. He thinks he understands how politics are run in Washington and just wants everything to be perfect. He trusts Charlotte as a politician, until he sees her work the circuit. Charlotte knows the game and knows how it’s played, even if it isn’t what Fred thinks is right. Both people are due for a wake-up call and the most interesting scenes are when the two are going back-and-forth discussing their political matters. If only the movie had focused more on this, yet still kept its comedic touch, we’d have something special.
Long Shot does have a number of funny moments and a terrific cast all giving their best. But the immature humor, long run-time, and under-developed plot keep it from comedy excellence.