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Long shot  2019 poster
Long Shot
★☆☆☆☆
First run Theater cinema

Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron star as mismatched lovers in this fish-out-of-water romantic comedy from director Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies, Snatched). Theron plays a young, sharp, gorgeous Secretary of State, with absurdly high polling numbers, whose chances of becoming the first female president of the United States are jeopardized when she falls for an immature but lovable left-wing journalist for whom she use to babysit. That’s Rogen, of course, in his typical unkempt, stoner, man-child persona. The premise provides a solid opportunity for a modern take on a classic Hollywood rom-com narrative, and (surprisingly) Rogen and Theron have genuine chemistry on screen. Unfortunately, every other aspect of this picture is as awful as awful can be.

Mid-budget romantic comedies have been struggling of late to regain their rightful place in popular culture and the marketplace of the multiplex. But if Long Shot is indicative of what studios think this kind of movie is supposed to be, then things do not look promising for the much-maligned genre. First and foremost, for a rom-com to work it MUST be grounded in some kind of reality. It can be a movie-fantasy reality, of course, but viewers need to buy into the premise, and the characters must behave true-to-character in order for us to be moved by whatever change they undergo over the course of the story. That is not the case here. Screenwriters Dan Sterling (The Interview) and Liz Hannah (The Post) demonstrate zero interest in giving the film any political backbone. 

The story kicks off because the current president—Bob Odenkirk in a one-joke supporting role (all the supporting roles here are one-joke-wonders)—is a former TV actor who is only using the presidency as a stepping-stone to a movie career. He promises to endorse Theron’s Charlotte Field if she tows the line for the rest of his term. This is neither a credible premise nor a clever satirical one, at least not for a film that takes place in an era where movies are rapidly becoming the lowest rung of the celebrity ladder. And nothing about the political framework that follows is remotely plausible. Why set this picture in the world of politics if no one involved in this film seems to care about politics? 

After the labored first act, forgiving audiences may be able to fall under the spell of the gifted Theron, who’s always the best thing in any bad movie she’s in. But the filmmakers are more than happy to destroy any shred of credibility they create between her and Rogen’s Fred Flarsky in the hopes of scoring cheap laughs. The way this film tries to make us believe that Fred is both honorable and endearing is pathetic—and Rogen doesn’t help with his oddly uncommitted performance. Charlotte, on the other hand, is well drawn throughout the first two-thirds of the movie, and Theron plays her in such a way that we understand how someone as serious and accomplished as she is could fall for a shlub like Fred. But each choice the filmmakers and actors make in the contrived, embarrassingly dimwitted last act undermines everything we thought we knew about Charlotte and demonstrates that Fred is even shallower than we originally thought. By the time we reach the home stretch of this lengthy romp (it’s a 125 min comedy with no subplots) the only thing we want less than for these two to wind up together is for Charlotte Field to become president of the United States.

Twitter Capsule:
The surprising chemistry between Theron and Rogen can't save the unconvincing writing and lazy direction in this slick studio rom-com set in an insipidly imagined world of international politics.

Directed by Jonathan Levine
Produced by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver, Charlize Theron, A.J. Dix, and Beth Kono

Screenplay by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah
Story by Dan Sterling

With: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis, Randall Park, Tristan D. Lalla, Alexander Skarsgård, Lisa Kudrow, Kurt Braunohler, Paul Scheer, Claudia O'Doherty, Lil Yachty, and Boyz II Men

Cinematography: Yves Bélanger
Editing: Mellissa Bretherton and Evan Henke
Music: Marco Beltrami and Miles Hankins

Runtime: 125 min
Release Date: 03 May 2019
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color