‘Long Shot’ splits the ticket
Political satire and raunchy romantic comedy make for strange bedfellows in Long Shot, an eager-to-please romp pairing Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan, who may not display sizzling or sparkling screen chemistry but can claim a comfortable camaraderie.
Theron, also one of the film’s producers, portrays Charlotte Field, the glamorous U.S. Secretary of State, angling for a Presidential run in 2020, particularly after the current Commander-in-Chief (Bob Odenkirk), a former T.V. star best known for playing the President on a “West Wing”-type series, opts not to run for re-election but to break into feature films.
Rogen, likewise a producer, plays Fred Flarsky, a hard-charging journalist who just so happened to live next door to Charlotte when they were youngsters. This being a comedy, Charlotte taps Fred to be her new speechwriter, much to the consternation of her top aide, Maggie (June Diane Raphael, in what could be called the “Allison Janney role”).
Needless to say, sparks fly – and so do the sophomoric gags. Long Shot is sort of like a Frank Capra comedy with sex jokes, four-letter words, and drug use. It wants to make valid political observations while also fulfilling the raunch quotient. This would be fine if either aspect worked on a more consistent basis.
Director Jonathan Levine has previously worked with Rogen, most notably in 50/50 (2011), a truly great comedy/drama that found neither the audience nor critical acclaim it deserved. Long Shot isn’t as good by … well, a long shot, but it is a marked improvement over Levine’s last feature, the hopeless Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn vehicle Snatched (2017).
O’Shea Jackson Jr. (son of Ice Cube) has some nice moments as Rogen’s best bud, and the perennially unrecognizable Andy Serkis has a high ol’ time as a nasty media mogul with heavy political influence (Rupert Murdoch, anyone?). However, Odenkirk (who could well have knocked out his entire role in a day) and Lisa Kudrow (who could have knocked hers out in an hour) are wasted. Although Alexander Skarsgard enjoys a comedic change of pace as an image-conscious Canadian prime minister with eyes for Theron, it’s also an insignificant role.
Once the film has established its storyline, screenwriters Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah keep concocting unnecessary and frequently contrived plot twists, which serve only to slow the story’s momentum. There’s a good little 95-minute movie in Long Shot. Unfortunately, it’s swamped in a running time that exceeds two hours. Despite some laughs along the way, this is one case where less would most definitely have been more.