Alight, so I am way behind on reviewing this movie. As I implied in my review for “The Hustle” yesterday I feel like I’ve been neglecting the comedy genre so far in 2019 so I wanted to make sure I got a few genre films in this week and one comedy that has received a lot of critical love but has been more overlooked by the masses since its release is a new Seth Rogen films, “The Long Shot”. Mixing Rogen’s penchant for stoner humor with a little bit of political flair, “The Long Shot” serves as a both an “ugly guy gets the girl” comedy as well as a feature meant to touch on some of the relevant social controversies affecting society today. On one hand this could have made for a charming and hilarious romp, but on the other it could have become a pandering mess. Which description serves “The Long Shot” better? Well I’m here to fill you in. This is my review of “The Long Shot”.
“The Long Shot” stars Charlize Theron as Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State in an alternate 2019 who learns that the president is not going to run for office again and has decided to endorse her as his potential successor. Meanwhile journalist and staunch anti-conservative Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) loses his job after he disagrees with his paper being taken over by a wealthy media mogul whose ethics he believes have stained journalism. After Flarsky is invited to a party by his best friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) he connects with Secretary Field and recalls having had a crush on her when she used to babysit him as a pre-teen. After witnessing Fred embarrass himself at the party Secretary Field decides to hire him to help write her speeches with the hope of injecting humor into her bid for the presidency. As the two become closer however a romance sparks that causes both Fred and Charlotte to consider who they want to be in the public eye and how much they are willing to compromise to succeed on the national stage and find personal happiness together.
“The Long Shot” is an impressively “woke” film to use a horribly dated and cliched term in its attempt to not only tackle the “ugly guy gets the girl” trope but also its political undertones as well. Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen make an absolutely charming pair and work off each other well from start to finish. The pair manage to overpower preconceptions of many that this would be an unbelievable romance in real life. I truly fell for the connection they tried to present on screen. That’s half the battle right there, making us believe a guy like Seth Rogen could win a woman like Charlize Theron based on personality alone. It’s not like the film tries to say anything unique about shallow men or women, these two just genuinely like each other and it’s actually pretty adorable. It also helps that both Theron and Rogen seem to be having a genuinely good time and that energy and charisma bleeds off the screen. There’s nothing truly unique about their characters and yet they feel human and alive. They’re a fun pairing complimented by an equally charming supporting cast and a script that blends outright ridiculous humor with more subtle laughs to create something genuinely entertaining on many levels.
And that’s one of the big strengths of this film is that despite its clichés and its tendency to go maybe a little too far at times it is a fun ride. I was invested pretty much from start to finish. It felt like a Seth Rogen classic bringing me back to some of his past works like “Knocked Up” and “This is the End”. While I would call those two films superior to “The Long Shot”, the personality of this picture feels more in line with the actor’s more successful and respected features which to me was a breath of fresh air in a genre that really needs a shot of quality in 2019. “The Long Shot” provides great laughs and enough ridiculous, at times drug fueled antics to satisfy both fans of stoner comedies or those who seek genre productions with a little more nuance and social satire worked in. But it should be noted that there are times where this movie tries to do too much, taking things to an extreme they didn’t really need to reach in order to be effective. While it is funny watching Seth Rogen slam into a car after falling out of a window or seeing his character using swears in his headlines these jokes and pratfalls undermine the superior, more subtle or casual comedy that makes up the rest of the film. “The Long Shot” didn’t need these moments. It does just fine working off of the natural charisma and talent of its leads.
But possibly the most divisive aspect of this picture for me was its attempts to touch on the politics of today. On one hand “The Long Shot” does incorporate many timely themes into its narrative including corporate influence over the media and politics, journalistic integrity, compromising one’s vision for the sake of power and, most importantly, the political divide among members of the public. There’s one absolutely awesome moment where Rogen’s character is forced to come to grips with his own judgmental attitude towards conservatives providing some much needed, and surprisingly mature, commentary on the current political landscape of the general public and our tendency to judge each other based not on who we really are but on which party we decide to support. This was by far my favorite part of this film but sadly these political undertones, which you’d think would be the main themes of the film, are overshadowed by shenanigans, punch lines and the love story. The politics does serve as the driving force of the plot but sadly the message doesn’t resonate as loudly and proudly as it should. It kind of feels like the politics were dumbed down a bit to avoid “The Long Shot” being too preachy, but it’s a comedy about a loser working with a presidential candidate…the premise itself demands putting the politics front and center. It still gets its point across and I think we need more movies willing to go to these depths to try and focus on today’s political divide, but “The Long Shot” could have and should have done more. As fun and eye-opening as it tends to be, it still feels like a missed opportunity that could have gone just a bit farther with its in-your-face message of acceptance in a divided society.
So, my thoughts on “The Long Shot” are mixed but more positive than negative. It’s definitely one of the better comedies of 2019 which is saying a lot coming from someone like me. Rogen and Theron are an awesome, hilarious pair who bring charm and charisma to the screen and feel like they’re having a whole lot of fun doing it. The comedy works more so when it’s not trying as hard although if ridiculous stoner comedy is what you’re looking for there’s plenty of that to go around as well. Most of all it’s a comedy with something to say touching on the politics and societal divide of today. I do wish it would have gone farther with its themes and maybe owned its political commentary much more fully, but I’ll take what I can get. “The Long Shot” is a fun and hilarious good time that I’m glad I finally got the chance to experience and I highly recommend you give it a chance as well.