Dir: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Cinema has demonstrated many visions of love at first encounter, on first sight. When Forrest meets Jenny on the school bus in “Forrest Gump”, when Jack finds Rose gazing into the ocean in “Titanic”, or when Tony and Maria dance into one another’s lives in “Westside Story”; these examples display the complicated encounters of love in their romantic, tragic, and one-sided forms.
“Long Shot”, the new romantic-comedy from talented director Jonathan Levine, focuses on a first encounter of love between two unlikely people who have more in common than they actually realize. Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen are the two characters leading the charge into a tumultuous environment while trying to hold their newfound feelings intact. If you feel like you’ve seen this before, you have…still, “Long Shot” has a completely charming and raunchily hilarious heart that keeps its fairytale sensibilities in line.
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the Secretary of State for the United States, she is a born leader with a work ethic that keeps her one step ahead of her counterparts. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a struggling investigative journalist, he is ambitious in the most reckless ways and impulsive in behavior that often gets him into trouble. Charlotte and Fred both attend a swanky party, their eyes meet across the dance floor and, for one of them, emotions blossom again. Charlotte, needing a speech writer, hires Fred and the two begin a worldwide political tour of private jets, fancy dinners, and lots of conversation.
What separates “Long Shot” from other romantic stories like them? Not much, but it does one thing that detaches it significantly from other rom-coms, it constructs a female character who possesses all the power, in all its forms, in the relationship. It’s surprisingly refreshing to see this dynamic work itself out between the characters, and for it to remain throughout a majority of the film.
Charlize Theron is fantastic, without her this film would lose its charming and genuine portrayal of relationships when the cliched melodrama or the raunchy comedic elements take over. Seth Rogen may not be the most talented dramatic actor but he is offered a few quiet, contemplative moments where he shines. But this film belongs to Ms. Theron, a force of screen presence but also a complimentary performer for those who share the space with her. Ms. Theron’s character is the smartest, strongest, and most confident character in the film. It creates an interesting dynamic for a film that starts in the residence of white supremacists spouting hate rhetoric and trying to convince newcomers to brand themselves with hate symbols. It’s establishing a world where even the smartest, strongest, most confident female character would still be looked upon as a long shot for every position men feel entitled to, which is sadly still not to far from the reality we are currently living.
The narrative writes itself into somewhat of a corner, as the fairytale of the relationship builds towards a reality that is more complicated to portray, more complicated when real life reveals its complex pathways. While it’s not completely unsatisfying, it does feel like the easiest, but also laziest, route towards a conclusion was taken in order to retain its foundation as a comedy.
“Long Shot” may not be the best first date film, but it may be the best third date film. You’ll get the romantic sentiments while also challenging how far your significant other’s comedy threshold is for uneasy situations and sometimes crude conversation. It’s a film that has charm and heart at its core, a film that tries its very best to have you leave the theater with the same feelings you might feel when you encounter that special someone across the room.
3.50 out of 5.00