Director: Jonathan LeVine
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Review Author: Tony
If Adam Sandler was the champion of comedy during my preteens, then Seth Rogen was the torchbearer into my late teens and early twenties. Such is the way of comedy that an individual can become the face of comedy films for each generation. This is because comedy is an ever evolving genre pinpointed at age, gender, cultural background, sexual preference, and our sensibilities in general. Not that once Hollywood has a formula or star, they will not bleed it dry.
Since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Rogen has become this generations comedy star with his own brand of sarcastic, stoner slapstick shtick that has taken over comedy and been emulated by others pretty poorly. Rogen has a stellar lineup of comedy classics and even more impressively has shown an even greater talent for writing and directing. The problem is, Rogen has somewhat typecast himself. A friend of mine pointed out that quite often Seth isn’t the funniest element of his movies because we’ve seen the chubby, hairy, lovable, foulmouthed, drug enthusiast in nearly every film he features in. So when I say Rogen plays a chubby, hairy, lovable, foulmouthed, drug enthusiast in Long Shot it may sound like a slight against the film but it’s probably one of the film’s greatest strengths.
Long Shot has a pretty formulaic plot regarding a Romcom where we get an odd couple, one is far more successful than the other who is haplessly trying to get their life together. Sparks fly. They both learn something from one another. An obstacle separates them. The lessons they thought each other brings them back together. Our hearts flutter. Our smiles widen. Tears are shed. Fin!
Despite my gross simplification on the dynamics of Romcoms, Long Shot has enough creativity and chemistry to stand out as one of the best romantic films and comedies in years. This is because of the strong writing that takes Rogen’s stereotypical role and deconstructs it. Typically Seth plays some form of a kindhearted loser that punches above his weight and gets the bombshell, or in other cases, is the loyal friend who exposes one of the female cast members for the bloodsucking harpy she is. While I don’t doubt his intentions in real life and his films do go for a poignant message, he has a problem of presenting himself as a dudebro. Long Shot isn’t afraid to punch holes in his typecast and expose it when confronted with an actual strong-willed and well written female character, but not at the expense of raising her on a pedestal.
Charlize Theron may be a bombshell, but she’s no typical Rogen comedy female shill. Theron is wonderful as Charlotte Field, The Secretary of State, who’s in the running in the next presidential elections. Theron is one of the most versatile actors on the planet and can play a powerful woman with her eyes closed, but it’s great to see a role where she can both suit up and later let her hair down.
Compromise is a word frequently thrown around during the film’s runtime. It has become somewhat of a dirty word in today’s climate where everyone is too stubborn to be wrong and instead flock together to double down. Everyone wants to feel strong in their beliefs and convictions, to fold is to fail and to fail is to look weak. Such is the belief of Rogen’s character, Fred Flarsky, a progressive liberal journalist who throws away his job when his newspaper company is bought by media mogul, Parker Wembley. A man with terrible morals whom he despises. What first appears as a moment a great integrity later builds the picture of an insular man who looks down on those whose morals don’t lineup with his. The film doesn’t judge or betray Flarsky’s beliefs or opinions, instead it faces them with opposing ideas and how others don’t have the liberty to be as stubborn as he can.
Relationships aren’t easy and plenty of Romcoms tackle them with an exaggerated view that someone’s belief system has to fail in order for the dream romance to exist. Long Shot not only lambasts this idea but spreads a meaningful message that compromise is a two-way street between two adults for a mutual benefit of sharing a life together. Smartly written and full of hilarious scenes and supporting characters, Long Shot is the Romcom Judd Apatow can only dream of directing.
Rating: 4 / 5 Pina Coladas