Long Shot

 

starstarstar

 

 

Romance and raunch meet in a mainstream movie centred on two stars playing together for 

the first time.

 

Long Shot 

A shot in the dark, so to speak: Ravi Patel, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron

 

Most films create a tone and then seek to maintain it. Not so with Jonathan Levine's Long Shot which sets out to combine contrasted elements in the hope that they will mix, incongruous perhaps but not incompatible. It's a gamble, of course, but one that has paid off in some respects if not in all. This is mainstream fare which pairs Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen to excellent effect. That's so despite the fact that the film is at heart a romcom and Rogen lacks the romantic image usually expected of a leading man in this sphere. But if Rogen is no Cary Grant and no Rock Hudson, he can instead win over the audience who will root for him as an able but out-of-work journalist named Fred Flarsky. Fred is in love with a woman who is in a class above him, that is Charlotte Field, the American Secretary of State with plans to run as President whom he had first fallen for in school when he was thirteen years old.

 

Theron has rarely looked so glamorous, handles the comedy adroitly and even convinces as a career politician. When Charlotte employs Fred to write speeches for her, their renewed contact will have the audience hoping that these two will get together. If that makes for a conventional romcom situation, the decision to incorporate the raunchy jokes and strong language that Rogen's fans expect (there are comic scenes involving boners and jerking off) might well have derailed the romantic appeal - indeed, it may do so for some older viewers, but the majority are likely to take it as an updated gloss on the romcom tradition.

 

Elsewhere, however, the results are less persuasive even if Long Shot gets by when fielding such standard subsidiary figures as the hero's best friend (O'Shea Jackson Jr) and the female assistant (June Diane Raphael) who, seeking to get Fred dismissed, is the film's bitch figure. Both of these roles could be stronger in the writing, but the real misjudgments that matter are twofold. First, by giving the story a political setting, issues arise about the difficulty of sticking to your beliefs when compromise may be necessary on a tactical basis. In effect this is an echo of Frank Capra classics from the 1930s which, however sentimental, carried their moral message feelingly. Here the serious nature of what is touched on seems out of place and, given the contemporary tone, the film fluctuates unconvincingly (at one point Fred acts as Charlotte's conscience but then goes into reverse, after which Charlotte's climactic big speech comes over as an obvious set-up piece   since it lacks the sincerity that Capra would have brought to it). The other error of judgment lies in the indulgence involved in letting the film extend to just over two hours: this makes it feel episodic whereas a tauter structure would benefit the piece greatly. Nevertheless, these failings although regrettable never undermine the unorthodox appeal inherent in bringing Theron and Rogen together and Long Shot could well be a big box-office success.

  

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård, Ravi Patel, Tristan D. Lalla, Randall Park, Aladeen Tawfeek, Lisa Kudrow, Boyz II Men.

Dir Jonathan Levine, Pro A. J. Dix, Evan Goldberg, Beth Kono, Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron and James Weaver, Screenplay Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling, Ph Yves Bélanger, Pro Des Kalina Ivanov, Ed Melissa Bretherton and Evan Henke, Music Marco Beltrami and Miled Hankins, Costumes Mary E. Vogt.

 

Denver and Delilah Productions/Good Universe/Point Grey Pictures-Lionsgate.
125 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 3 May 2019. Cert. 15.