Point Grey Pictures / Good Universe
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Jonathan Levine, Elizabeth Hannah
Stars: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Seth Rogen has made a career out of playing schlubby Jews (I can say that because I am one too), but his most recent role as Fred Flarsky in Long Shot gives him plenty of new territory to evolve the character… Even if the character is still a schlubby, Jewish stoner that refuses to grow up.
In Long Shot, Rogen plays a hot-headed political journalist and is once again paired with a comically, ridiculously beautiful love interest, this time a Secretary of State named Charlotte on the verge of a Presidential run, played by Charlize Theron. “Wait a minute,” you’re asking… “How would a Seth Rogen character end up with a Presidential candidate, let alone one who looks like Charlize Theron?” Well it turns out that she was his friend and babysitter when they were kids, and after a boner-inducing night (it IS a Seth Rogen comedy after all), Fred has held onto a crush for all these decades as she has turned her drive and optimism into a rich, political career. It just so happens that the stress of that career and one fateful night bring the two back together.
It’s a fun, albeit completely predictable story from here on out. A sweet love story with plenty of opposites-attract comedy, a fun drug-fueled section in which Theron gets to let loose in a way we’ve never really seen before, and a hilarious supporting cast (especially June Diane Raphael as Charlotte’s stuck up assistant and O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Fred’s high on positivity and spiked La Croix best friend).
It all works surprisingly well, and while if you listen to my other podcast Bird Road, you know I tend to lean much further left than the centrist Democrat politics (“Down with the Orange Cheeto!”) of the movie, even when those politics become front and center, the jokes land by taking on multiple sides of the various issues… But some of it is still pretty cheesy.
Regardless of its mostly political setting though, what’s most important to any good romantic comedy is the romance and the jokes, and Long Shot does them both well. Director Jonathan Levine has collaborated with Rogen before in the excellent 50/50 and the pretty good The Night Before. He does a great job here balancing the story between the truly sweet love affair, moments of humor, and the more out there crazy places the movie goes.
When it comes down to it though, the bulk of the credit has to be given to Charlize Theron who really relishes in the opportunity to get a little crazy. She seems to be having a blast playing both ends of the spectrum… The would-be first woman President and someone in love with a a stoner doofus…. A stoner doofus who knows when to let an actress as good as Charlize Theron take the lead.