God bless Seth Rogen. The Canadian-born comedian and Freaks and Geeks alum has made a career playing lovably disheveled stoners, his public persona often aligning with the characters he plays, if reliably less successful. In Long Shot, Rogen’s third collaboration with director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before), Rogen steps into familiarly stoney, snarky shoes as a left-leaning journalist named Fred Flarsky who rekindles a relationship with his old babysitter Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is currently running for president.
Long Shot, which may be referring to Field’s political aspirations or the distance of Flarksy’s ejaculate, is Rogen’s best starring vehicle in years and only sharpens the comedian’s goon appeal. Seriously, how do you not like this guy? He cums in his own beard. Better still, the Judd Apatow-esque dramedy – his name appears nowhere on the producer’s list but his influence is deeply felt – written by Dan Sterling (Girls) and Liz Hannah (The Post) affords the incredibly talented Theron a return to comedy after years of playing grizzled leading ladies, sultry super spies, and literal homicidal maniacs. As mismatched a couple as could likely be cooked up, Theron and Rogen share great screen chemistry – her regal charm and his brusque appeal a winning combination that I had trouble believing would work. Levine tinkers around in just enough feelies to get the emotional component to really work but it’s the comic chemistry of the pair that really sings – especially when the unlikely in love duo scarf down some molly before being forced to deal with an international hostage situation.
The Seth Rogen comedy lives or dies by the “getting fucked up” moments and Long Shot boasts perhaps the best of his career, with Theron taking the baton and bringing it home in glorious fashion. It’s just not a Rogen comedy without the requisite drug scene and Long Shot’s had me in absolute stitches as Fields slips down a coach claiming to “not feel anything”.
A supporting cast that includes June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. gives a political entourage vibe to Theron’s party that feels very much a riff on the Veep’s brand of satire, if decidedly less cultured and with decidedly more heart. Alexander Skarsgård appears as a nerdy Canadian Prime Minster/love interest with a tv-unfriendly laugh and Bob Odenkirk fails to really bring many laughs to the table as a tv-star-turned-US-president while Andy Serkis keeps you guessing as to who is playing Rupert Murdoch media tycoon type Parker Wembley until the credits roll.
The film opens with Flarksy in the presence of Nazis, infiltrating their leagues with half-hearted Sieg Heil salutes before being ousted as a Jew and leaping from a ten-story window to escape their MAGA reach. This initially divisive take on the American political sphere softens considerably as Long Shot champions high school student counsel idealism over realpolitik, opting for a reconciliatory approach that somewhat tone-deafly glosses over the political divide in Trump-era politics, attempting a bit of a kumbaya approach to the left-right trench that rings a bit hollow in the days of political absolutism. Politically savvy, this thing is not.
But if you’re willing to overlook the simple-minded world view of Long Shot, there’s a lot of treasures in store. At a touch over two hours, Levine has the time to develop fondness for these characters, a thing that can go by the wayside in similar comedic endeavors, and he makes the time breeze by. While Rogen and Theron make for an unlikely match on paper, they sell this thing hook, line, and sinker, making for one of the better rom-coms of the past few years.
CONCLUSION: You won’t regret casting a ballot for this Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron political rom-com, whose odd-couple chemistry allows for a wholly ingratiating, if politically muddled, night at the theater.
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