Movie Review: Long Shot Click play above to listen to the review. R | 2h 5min Director: Jonathan Levine Stars: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael by Jason Koenigsberg Long Shot […]
Movie Review: Long Shot
Click play above to listen to the review.
Director: Jonathan Levine
by Jason Koenigsberg
Long Shot is an idealist liberal male fantasy. This movie expects the audience to believe that a guy who looks like Seth Rogen and is unemployed can get a woman who looks like Charlize Theron and also happens to be the Secretary of State to fall in love with him. Not only that but they get to travel the world together, while he gets paid, get into some 007 style action while she falls in love with him. If you can accept that fantasy then maybe Long Shot is the romantic comedy for you.
Ever since his breakout role as a leading man in Knocked Up (2007) Seth Rogen has made a career out of making movies where he gets women seemingly way out of his league to fall for him. It worked in Knocked Up where the poster placed his face as an awkward portrait for a doofus who is in over his head. Since then not much has changed, just that Rogen has solidified his comedy stylings as he has become a major movie star over the past twelve years. Usually, his humor involves drugs and a lot of yelling for no particular reason. Thankfully for Long Shot, he toned both the drug jokes and the upward voice inflections down. But this is the typical Seth Rogen vehicle in just about every other way as he once again easily romances a gorgeous woman way out of his league. Long Shot expects the audience to believe some very far fetched plot elements involving international relations and relations of the human heart. I would love to see a movie where Brad Pitt falls for Camryn Manheim or Michael B. Jordan falls for Gabourey Sidibe but that will never happen. Not only because they are unrealistic fantasies but because they would bomb at the box office. Look no further than the movies to be reminded this is a man’s world and Hollywood is still very much run by men.
The movie opens up with profane language and then it reveals that we are at a White Supremacist rally and Seth Rogen is there looking uncomfortable. He plays a journalist trying to get an inside story on the Neo-Nazis and we learn that he is uncompromising with his integrity and quest to publish the truth which causes problems for his employer as well as his own journalistic ethics when his small news website is bought by a big news corporation. While he is unemployed he happens to be at a ritzy party where he runs into Charlize Theron who remembers him from their childhood. She calls him over and asks him out and makes it so easy virtually doing all of the hard work that most men have to do to build up the courage to ask out a beautiful woman. The party scene does make good use of 90’s hip-hop group Boyz II Men, but it also has some visual gags and obvious jokes that fall flat.
Long Shot works on a superficial level. All of the jokes are blatant about the obvious stupidity and sexism involved in US politics. So are the simple attempts at being a satire against giant news media conglomerates and the power they have. Bob Odenkirk plays a joke of a president who wants to serve only one term so that he can transition from being a television star to feature film roles. Prior to being elected president, he played one on TV for years. This is a thinly veiled shot at our current President who is a former reality TV star but if only we were so lucky that Trump would have the same ambitions as the president in Long Shot. Charlize Theron has to give a great performance to make Long Shot work and she does. Most of the pivotal scenes rely on her having real chemistry with her co-star Seth Rogen. She does practically all of the work in creating the relationship. She makes it so easy for him even accepting his sexual inadequacies as a positive. If a liberal Joe Shmoe could create a perfect woman in a test tube Charlize Theron’s character in Long Shot is what they would create. She makes her scenes believable because she is a good actress. Theron has played unapproachable many times before so this role is no stretch for her. She does her job and covers up the massive leaps in reality the screenplay expects the audience to believe.
In the end, Long Shot is an idealistic romantic fable about compromise. It is about how we need to compromise in love and in politics. But then the ending completely pulls the rug out from under that message and basically says forget everything the characters were trying to do in the last 90 minutes and just stick with your integrity. The American people will buy your honesty and accept you for it. If audiences believe that then they are much better at suspending their disbelief for two hours than I am.
Skip Long Shot and check out Warren Beatty’s smart, savvy, and hilarious political allegory Bulworth (1998). Over 20 years later its message about honesty in politics is still as relevant as ever.