Photo | AG Studios
Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron bring believable, appealing chemistry to their odd couple in “Long Shot,” a breezy romantic comedy that manages to introduce some new angles to a story about an unlikely pairing. Theron is, obviously, a goddess, but as a successful woman about to run for president, her character is multidimensional, not just the object of Rogen’s far-fetched affection.
Rogen plays Fred Flarsky — a typical, Rogen-esque dude who boasts more professional acumen than his characters usually do — a committed, respected journalist who quits his job in protest after his newspaper is bought out by an evil Rupert Murdoch type. Theron is Charlotte Field, the U.S. Secretary of State, who grew up next door to Flarsky and has been the object of his admiration since childhood. When they reconnect at a fancy fundraiser on the day he quits his job, she feels a spark and asks him to join her team as a speechwriter.
The gender dynamics of their relationship are fun and refreshing, with Rogen playing the husky manic pixie dream boy to Theron’s career woman, who resorts to something she calls “micro-napping,” which is done standing up with your eyes open, and who has only read the synopsis of every popular form of entertainment for the last decade. Rogen opens her eyes to the pleasures of drugs, Lil Yachty and actually watching an episode of “Game of Thrones.”
But there is more to it than that. It’s fun to see Bob Odenkirk as the president, a guy who played the president on TV and then got elected real-life president, but is now planning on leaving after one term so he can do something even more important: be a movie star. While the similarities to real life are obvious, this film actually makes a point about the wisdom of a political middle path, and the satire of politics is generalized and not directed at one party.
Ultimately politics are the background to watching Theron and Rogen together. As Charlotte and Fred travel the globe gaining support for the environmental platform that Charlotte will use to launch her presidential bid, the film does a good job of building them as a couple. Their chemistry is fun to watch, and the film shows us enough about Charlotte’s life that her attraction to Fred makes sense. He reminds her of what she was like as a young person, and he thinks of her as more than a brand.
But the best part about this couple is that their respective intelligence is one of the reasons that they like each other. While this is foremost a comedy with plenty of goofy jokes, the characters are each formidable in their fields. Their mutual respect evolves and works wonderfully within their extremely different worlds, and it’s sort of delightful to observe them learning about and helping each other. And above all their gender roles, with the female the vastly more powerful one, gives Rogen some of his most endearing qualities.
Years ago, Rogen was cast as a young man whose goofiness melted the heart of an uptight woman in “Knocked Up,” but Theron’s character is not painted as the shrew that the unsympathetic female was in that somewhat problematic comedy. Both characters have to loosen up some of the rigidity of their convictions, and it is for the better, personally and as a couple.
“Long Shot” is a solidly entertaining, hilarious crowd-pleaser but I must warn you that it features the most visible use of certain bodily fluids since “There’s Something About Mary.” While it is not shocking that it boasts plenty of sophomoric humor, the romance is surprisingly effective. It’s not a new Valentine’s Day classic perhaps, but there are enough warm, fuzzy feelings, along with many laughs, to qualify for date night.
“Long Shot” is currently available to rent.
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