'Long Shot' Doesn't Risk Political Heavy-Lifting in Its Rom-Com Construction Directed by Jonathan Levine
Starring Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
Published May 06, 2019Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is a high-powered, sophisticated U.S. Secretary of State with her eye on the Presidency. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a dishevelled journalist who infiltrates Nazi gatherings and cares more about moral integrity than having a paycheck. What other outcome is there? This unlikely pair is gonna get close.
At the same time as the alt-weekly where Fred works is bought out by a Trump-esque media mogul (Andy Serkis), Charlotte, also Fred's former babysitter, is looking for speechwriters to add humour to her campaign. Fred joins Charlotte on an international tour, and has his relentless commitment to "doing what's right" complicated by the harsh reality of Charlotte's never-ending political balancing act.
At its core, Long Shot is a classic Seth Rogen rom-com, with elements of satire slipped in amidst sex jokes. It lives in a world where everything is slightly exaggerated, which pays off when it comes to the comedy. Finding satisfying humour in making the gendered side of politics explicit, male news anchors only comment on appearances, campaign strategies revolve around presenting gracefully rather than policy, and any sexual behaviour is used as a source for shaming.
At the same time, the optimistic plotline leans toward escapism. It favours feel-good, rose-coloured solutions, rather than anything too biting or heavy. And of course, there is at least a little irony to how the film centers Fred, and Charlotte's relationship to him. It's a story that plays out fairly predictably, but at least with a role reversal of some of the genre's more gendered tropes, looking to Rogen, instead, to consider what sacrifices he's willing to make for a relationship.