Long Shot Blu-ray Review

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Seth Rogen fan. I’ll generally watch and enjoy anything the guy’s in.

But even I was sceptical when I heard of his involvement in new romantic comedy Long Shot.

I initially dismissed the film as a cynical, studio-driven star pairing, as opposed to being a fresh story that really needs to be told, or by extension a movie that really needs to be made.

Well, it’s not exactly a story that needs to be told, but thanks to its central pairing, it does prove to be a notch or two above the usual studio fare.

Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is a journalist for a small media firm which prides itself on being independent and differentiated from giant media conglomerates.

His media firm is then itself purchased by a giant media conglomerate.

Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the US Secretary of State, who learns from the President (Bob Odenkirk) that he will not be running for a second term. She voices her own political ambitions and he agrees to endorse her candidacy to succeed him.

Fred and Charlotte are worlds apart, right? Guess again, movie fans.

Fred immediately quits his job in retaliation to the buy-out and is consoled by his buddy Lance (O’Shea Jackson Junior). At the end of a boozy day out, they find themselves at a swanky fundraiser. Who do they run into but Charlotte, who turns out to be Fred’s babysitter from years back.

Small world.

Heeding her advisors, including Maggie Millikin (How Did This Get Made’s June Diane Raphael), Charlotte realises that she needs to come across to her electorate as funnier and more down to her earth. The chance meeting with Fred prompts her to read his articles and ultimately hire him as a speech writer.

Fred and Charlotte move in very different circles and the movie slowly unfurls as an update of Pretty Woman, which itself is a riff on My Fair Lady, which is in turn a film adaptation of Pygmalion.

To call this film formulaic is therefore an understatement.

Fortunately, the performances of Rogen and Theron lift it from being entirely forgettable to being quite enjoyable.

Rogen plays Rogen, but boy does he play Rogen well; pratfalling one minute, endearingly earnest the next. And, always the sign of a good comedy, the supporting characters get their moments to shine too, from Raphael to Jackson to a completely unrecognisable Andy Serkis as a media tycoon.

Theron is perhaps the biggest revelation in this comedy environment.

True, there is a danger at the beginning of the film that Theron’s character is little more than the too-career-driven-for-a-relationship stereotype which has long plagued female rom-com characters,

but it becomes clear as the film progresses that hey, she’s the Secretary of State: it’s a busy job no matter who you are.

Her gradual and unlikely relationship trajectory with Flarsky is made believable by the humanity and light touch which Theron brings to the character. The scene where she needs to negotiate a hostage release while coming down from a heavy night of clubbing is a suitable comic showcase.

As an afterthought, one question bothered me: is she too moral for a politician?

Yes, maybe that’s the biggest credibility stretch.

Conor Brennan

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September 2019