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Long Shot – Movie Review

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Long Shot – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

The strength of many comedies can be found in the right pairing of actors who can play off each other. Long Shot finds that with Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. The film utilises their talents, but also doesn’t dump a load of clichés on them. Director Jonathan Levine and credited screenwriters Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah find plenty of material for Theron’s Secretary of State and Rogen’s journalist. The result is a really funny romantic comedy that, beyond the more off-colour jokes and profanity, has a premise and plot progression that wouldn’t have been out of place in a classic comedy.

While Rogen is playing a weed addict again, his intrepid journalist Fred Flarsky is more intelligent than his usual schlubs. Flarsky is shown to be a flawed, but still likeable individual who uses his wit to get by. Theron’s Charlotte Field could have been written as the standard cold, career-driven woman. While certainly focused on advancing her political position and running for president, Theron nonetheless presents her as an easy-going and funny person with proper motives and a good amount of layers. Putting these characters together allows for strong chemistry, further helped by Rogen and Theron’s winning performances. Part of the enjoyment in watching Long Shot is spending time with the two of them.

Levine doesn’t just rely on his two leads to produce laughs, either. June Diane Raphael brings plenty of bite as Charlotte’s principal staffer and gets some humourous back-and-forths with Rogen. The dim-witted president isn’t an original character, but Bob Odenkirk brings a fresh angle to that sort of role. O’Shea Jackson, Jr. lends support as Flarsky’s best friend and it’s believable that their friendship goes way back. In an interesting casting choice, Andy Serkis is buried another a mountain of makeup to play a ruthless Rupert Murdoch-type media mogul. He mostly plays the role straight and that allows him to become someone we’re suitably unnerved by.

When Long Shot transitions to the more romantic aspect of the plot, it does work. Levine even seems to take cues from classic comedies in how the plot progresses and the story is structured. Like a classic Hepburn-Tracy comedy, the story moves forward thanks to the natural chemistry between the two and how they compliment and contrast each other’s personalities. At two hours, Long Shot does run a little long for what ultimately amounts to a rather simple premise. The length is especially felt at the beginning of the third act, but it eventually picks up steam again. Nonetheless, one gets the sense there’s a possible twenty minutes that could have been chopped off to make the movie a little tighter.

While the concept for Long Shot might make one think it will be a primarily political story, it’s really about two people who find a kinship and spark a believable romantic attachment. This is Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen’s movie and Jonathan Levine knows how to best use them. Many of the laughs do hit with the proper amount of consistency with some jokes being especially uproarious in their execution. Long Shot succeeds at avoiding too many of the tropes and clichés of the romantic comedy genre. While the idea of an average-looking man getting involved with a much more attractive woman is hardly a new concept, this film is able to take a fresh angle on it.

Stefan Ellison

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