May 2, 2019

SCREEN | Charlize Theron Takes A 'Long Shot'

Seth Rogen June Diane Raphael Jonathan Levine | Long Shot

Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron star as an unlikely pairing in director Jonathan Levine's latest romantic comedy, Long Shot. It's a somewhat half-baked political satire meets mostly endearing Pretty Woman in reverse style story thanks to the talent and chemistry of its leads.

Long Shot quickly goes beyond the recycled Knocked Up premise of the schlubby loser, Rogen's unemployed hipster journalist stoner Fred Flarsky, romancing the workaholic perfect ten, Theron's US Secretary of State Charlotte Field who's also running for president, for a sweetly comic film based on an initially far-fetched attraction quickly moving into areas of genuine personal connections.

Co-starring scene stealer O'Shea Jackson Jr. and the usually reliable supporting cast of comedians the likes of June Diane Raphael and Bob Odenkirk as Field's searing top aide and the President who actually used to play the President on television, most scenes are evenly constructed to mine jokes and laughs from amusing character dynamics.

Both Alexander Skarsgård and Andy Serkis as the charismatic, young Canadian Prime Minister flirting with Field and a truly odd Rupert Murdoch style multimedia conglomerate mogul stand-in exemplify the difficulty of transitioning from buddy comedy antics into topical satire.

Seth Rogen Jonathan Levine | Long Shot

Screenwriters Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah manage to balance most of the relationship beats and usual R-rated gags but the so-called political drama is really undercooked with the real-life analogs mostly clunkily executed. How world leaders and corporate tycoons proceed to act corruptly and commit high crimes in public feels overly stretched and neat, to say the least.

It's hard to describe just how funny Theron is as she's game for just about anything. Her talent for emotional drama and physical action extend to Rogen's raunchy style of comic timing and rapid-fire humour. Levine really takes time to flesh out their mutual attraction, personal backstories, and explain how their ideals inform their careers.

Long Shot quickly devolves into the usual impossible rom-com ending scenario where any resolution feels either rushed, unsatisfying, or overly neat and happy. The surprisingly hammy gags that face off against the throughline of female electability don't quite mesh and ultimately make for slight commentary. However, Rogen and Theron are never not watchable as a dynamic pairing with a genuine bond.

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