It’s unsurprising that Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen’s rom-com teaming up is an absolutely great idea. “Unlikely but not impossible,”as the tagline has suggested. Separately, Theron and Rogen had respectively excelled in their rom-coms (in which their characters are both troubled with some sort of identity crises)—the former in Young Adult and the latter in Knocked Up. In Long Shot—a political rom-com spawned from Dan Sterling’s story, co-penned with Liz Hannah, both stars once again excel as their blithesome chemistry ripened under the direction by 50/50 director, Jonathan Levine.
“Unlikely but not impossible” basically explains the plot, which aside from its too-good-to-be-true premise is a sincere yet biting rom-com set-piece. An angry journalist, Fred Flarsky (Rogen) reunites with the babysitter he had crushed on back in the teenage year. However, that babysitter, Charlotte Field (Theron) as it turns out, has grown up to be one of the most influential woman in the US—an incumbent Secretary of State aiming for presidential candidate in the long shot. Impressed with Flarsky’s flaky writing, Field hires him to be her speechwriter for the presidential campaign. So, there the classic love story is making it right in the current atmosphere of politically woke society. The shade couldn’t be more timelier than it is now; and that’s what make Long Shot biting as it is romantic.
Sterling and Hannah’s script portrays the romance right with occupational drama which blends with perfectly timed comedy moment (Sterling has done it before with Rogen in The Interview, while Hannah makes a procedural drama in Spielberg’s The Post accessible). The story, while KIdeology and political affiliation trigger internal conflicts within Field’s presidential campaign and, at the same time, blossoming relationship with Flarsky. There’s a moment where Field’s political affiliation forces her to comply with the ugly political relationship between politics, media and capitalism. Such moment should have been a perfect political thriller conflicts, but Long Shot makes it a rom-com conflict as well.
Theron and Rogen’s chemistry becomes the beating heart of Long Shot. Field’s ambitions and Flarsky’s idealism craft a love-hate relationship that works. Aside from the positive energy Theron & Rogen keeps pumping to this 125-minute voyage full of tonal inconsistency, Long Shot also benefits from vibrant supporting characters. O’Shea Jackson Jr’s GOP-supporting and GOD-supported wing-man character provides a motivation to Rogen’s overly steadfast character. Ravi Patel and June Diane Raphael add fluctuating dynamic in Theron & Rogen’s onscreen relationship.
Most obviously, Sterling’s story plays well with implausibility that almost nudges the shade of real-life figure. This time, he does not have to go all the way down to North Korea to find a mockery subject. Bob Odenkirk’s president character somehow plays a safe-distant mockery to Trump’s presidential traits, which even go further—setting up the president’s flair of sensation to his long-shot goals in TV industry. Long Shot also makes on-point jokes on persona-shaping business with Alexander Skarsgård’s Canadian prime minister character and, at the same time, criticizes politicians’ secret affairs with media moguls (reflected in Andy Serkis’ super-annoying character).
With all the substance and the real-world nudges, Long Shot never strays too far away from its purpose of being a sweet, grown-up rom-com. Levine’s direction is poignant, if not huffy to the objects it criticizes. And yet, the glue to excuse all the prolonged anger and tonal mess is Theron and Rogen’s blithesome chemistry. With the chemistry excels in this carefree political rom-com, Long Shotfeels somehow sincere and biting at the same time.
Long Shot (2019)
Romance, Comedy Directed by: Jonathan Levine Written by: Dan Sterling, Liz Hannah Starred by: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, O’Shea Jackson Jr. Runtime: 125 mins