Rom-com sees Seth Rogen as an unemployed journalist who finds himself unexpectedly working for his old babysitter (Charlize Theron), now US Secretary of State, and falling for her in the process. Flicks editor Steve Newall writes how the film tickled both his ribs and tear ducts.
Forget Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron being an unlikely romantic pairing in Long Shot—the thing I really did not see coming was that I would love the absolute hell out of this rom-com. Utterly unrelated to that previous sentence, for the love of God can cinemas please do something about the dust that got in my eyes (surely the only conceivable explanation for watery eyeballs each of the times I saw Long Shot, which in a weird double coincidence seemed to happen during specific scenes of swelling emotion).
If, hypothetically of course, the above reaction was due to the film, it’s a testament to the leads’ much-mentioned incredible chemistry, and director Jonathan Levine’s handle on the film’s tone. Levine (The Night Before) constructs a world where their pairing is plausible—just. It’s a world in which Fred Flarsky (Rogen) experiences two death-defying falls, which in Bad Neighbours air-bag fashion, would kill or maim an actual, living, human being. They play to big laughs and winces here, not just among the audience but also from his future boss/flame Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Theron). It’s also a world where stolen private moments, jokes, and a love for Boyz II Men and Roxette can prove potent precursors to romance.
Prior to matters of the heart taking sway, Long Shot delights in establishing com before getting to the rom, frequently proving outrageously funny (I can’t remember the last time I cracked up so much watching a film). There’s a pinch of physical comedy here, R-rated gags there, great interplay between the leads and supporting cast, and a ton of sharp satirical observations about politics, the media, and the absurdly restrictive double standards applied to women’s behaviour—particularly in public life.
While it can often enjoy being a bit silly, it’s also great to see Long Shot be unapologetic about recreational drug use (yes, Seth Rogen smokes weed in it, but doesn’t over-rely on a stoner persona), as well as being unashamed about female sexuality in a moment where Theron takes Rogen (and the audience) momentarily aback with her forthrightness, a precursor of anti-slut-shaming to come.
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Superb supporting cast members include O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Alexander Skarsgård (playing an almost disgustingly dorky ‘hunky’ Canadian PM), TV-star-President Bob Odenkirk and—hang on—Andy Serkis, whose performances assist the leads in justifying a two-hour runtime.
But really, it’s all about putting Rogen and Theron on screen together. They’re funny as all hell, sell the unlikely sizzle, and elevate what could so easily have been a rom-com by numbers if everyone involved wasn’t so invested in knocking this out of the park.