On the surface, ‘Long Shot’ is a call-back to the kind of romantic comedies that were popular in cinemas 20 years ago but now get regularly pumped out by Netflix. An unlikely pairing of two big stars, high production values, low level sex scenes and crowed pleasing sentiment.
Yet we’ve come a long way since Julia Roberts snagged Richard Gere and it remains to be seen if it is all for the best.
‘Long Shot’ definitely feels like it is for now and credit should be given to scribes Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. They cleverly reference so much that is going on in the world while also just writing a comedy. Seth Rogen is Fred Flarsky, a journalist who used to know Charlize Theron’s Secretary of State Charlotte Field, and gets a job working as her speech writer.
Seth has been doing this type of character throughout his career but he’s far from phoning it in here, for one thing Fred has a deep sense of integrity and passion. Charlize, who has made a career out of playing strong women, gets to flex her comedic muscles again and shows once more she is at the height of her powers. There is a moment where she just stands wearing a pair of sunglasses and it may be the funniest bit in the whole movie. This is star-driven in the oldest sense, the stars coast through the film and, conversely, the film coasts off them, neither gives away just how hard it all is. Charlize and Seth are ably backed by a great supporting cast including O’Shea Jackson Jr., June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Andy Serkis, Bob Odenkirk and Tristan D. Lalla.
The movie speaks to our times with commentary about media corruption, gender politics, individual branding, and recent U.S. election campaigns. The two lead characters are single, childless, career-driven and self-involved and they’re both straddling 40. Their relationship isn’t just an opportunity to love someone, it is a catalyst for self-growth the way the best relationships are. Some of this will hit closer to home than it will for others. It is also interesting to note some of the bodily humour present has a tragic element. With all the dick jokes, the filmmakers are making a strong statement about the way that our privacy can be compromised.
As a romance, Seth and Charlize share some nice chemistry, as a comedy there are more than enough laughs, and as a social commentary, the film has something to say. It is a dependable and likeable enough night out at the cinema. Who knows? Maybe the romantic comedy is about to make a comeback.