Saturday 20 April 2019

Film Review: Long Shot

Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron are a golden odd couple in Jonathan Levine's political romcom Long Shot.

Fred Flarksy (Seth Rogen), an out-of-work journalist, crosses paths with Secretary of State and his former babysitter Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) at a fancy New York function.

Field is looking at a run for President, but her aides say the voting public are having a hard time seeing her funny side. What starts out as a strange instance of serendipity soon spirals into a jet-setting romance, as Field brings Fred along on the campaign to give her dry speeches an amusing punch. However, the odd couple are soon faced with a tricky situation – can their love survive the pressures of navigating politics?

Like a gender-flipped version of Pretty Woman, Long Shot's biggest question mark (do Rogen and Theron share chemistry?) is answered right out of the gate. It shouldn't work, but somehow it does. Theron, who is best known as an action heroine (Mad Max: Fury Road, Atomic Blonde) and for her dramatic work with Jason Reitman (Tully, Young Adult), seriously impresses as a comedic actor here. A Million Ways To Die in the West aside, Theron hasn't gotten the chance to flex her comedic chops in the past, and takes it in her stride in Long Shot.

As the smartest person in the room, Theron's Charlotte Field often finds herself surrounded by morons. Of course, subverting this established norm amps up the humour even further – a sequence where Field, hopped up on pills and pulled from a rowdy nightclub, has to negotiate over the phone with terrorists is hilarious.

As good as Long Shot is, it still falls into the same trappings as Rogen's other output over the last 10 years. His average schlub character is still rough around the edges and foul-mouthed with a penchant for penis jokes and recreational drug use – there's even a string of celebrity cameos, from Lil Yachty to Boy II Men.

Anyone who has seen a Rogen comedy in the past (Bad Neighbours, This Is The End, The Night Before) will know what to expect here. If that isn't your jam, Long Shot probably won't convert you to the church of Rogen.

A veritable buffet of cameos fills out the supporting cast, from Alexander Skarsgard as the smooth Canadian prime minister and Bob Odenkirk as a celebrity-obsessed, former TV star commander-in-chief (sound familiar?). Andy Serkis pops up in quite possibly his weirdest and wackiest cameo yet – it's so strange that I didn't realise it was Serkis until I started writing this review and was scrolling through the cast on IMDb.

At the end of the day, Long Shot was an unexpectedly funny time at the movies. In addition to humour and heart, it also has a good crack at political satire, and doesn't fall short in this regard either.

The Verdict: 7/10

Charlize Theron shines in this odd melting pot of a film, which tries its hand at romantic comedy, down-the-middle Judd Apatow romp and biting political satire. It won't work for everyone (especially the barmy third act), but I can appreciate that between the penis jokes and drug references there's an attempt at something a little more mature and sincere. Not all of it lands, but the rule of averages dictates that Long Shot works more often than not.

Long Shot is in cinemas across Australia from Thursday May 2.

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