As a sometime Rogen and long-time Theron fan, they almost had me at hello. The movie opens with enough swearing to make an admiral blush, and we meet half our unlikely duo: Rogen’s Fled Flarsky. Flarsky’s a journalist, recently quit-slash-fired by Big Media, and re-introduced to his childhood crush at his get-over-it post-drinks session with long time best friend Lance (played by O’Shea Jackson Jr.). The crush- None other than the other half of this movie’s power couple, Theron’s Charlotte Field.
Tired of being Secretary of State to a Regan-wannabe, Field hires Flarsky to write her campaign speeches to get onto the presidential trail. The boy-already-knows-girl romance unfolds, but not along the usual lines. Rogen’s character doesn’t become a superhero. Charlie doesn’t change everything about herself to be with the man she might just grow to love. They come from very different worlds, and making the pieces fit feels impossible. They’re not star-crossed; they’re politically-crossed, with Charlotte’s dreams of becoming America’s first woman president at risk because Fred is … Fred.
Thematically, we’ve got The Hangover meets something a little more … intelligent. Arthouse meets The Hangover- Let’s go with that. The movie’s a departure for Charlize Theron. I’m used to seeing the actress as Imperator Furiosa or Lorraine Broughton; I wasn’t sure what to expect with her as the top-billed in a romcom. Her on screen chemistry with Rogen is outstanding, and she spends the movie’s 125 minutes’ running time showing us just how versatile she is. Her on-screen performance is relatable, not because we’re all planning to run for president one day, but because life’s hard, and full of impossible choices, almost everyday. She showcases the everywoman from her leadership podium – showing empathy, and not a little bit of irony.
Rogen for his part feels a little more refined than his usual fare. His role in this movie is the guy who wants the girl, and has for years, but is also the guy who wrestles with whether it’s left or right, red vs. Blue, or if it’s okay to have a Republican friend if you’re a Democrat. I feel like the movie has as much to say from Fred Flarksy’s perspective as Charlotte Field; we see a different altitude of society, where people are not well off, want to have a strong moral compass, and are challenged no matter where they turn. The cost for keeping honor is high, and we’re never sure if Fred will make it out of the movie with his principles intact.
For all that, this movie is 100% feel-good and funny. I hurt myself laughing at what felt like regular five-minute intervals. It skirts the delicate line of cringe humour well – just as it feels ready to take the easy dive into the abyss, it rises like a phoenix to show the mastery of the genre. The wit is one-liners, detailed jokes, and slapstick, married together in a seamless whole that feels complete, measured, and expertly timed. Long Shot has its happy ending, and delivers it with excellence. This should be everywhere.
If you want to laugh so much it hurts, all while seeing the wonderful bittersweet things us humans are, then check out Long Shot today. An easy five stars -----.