By Chic DiCiccio
If you strip away much of it, “Long Shot” is an old-fashioned romantic comedy. The high class, straight-laced person falls for their exact opposite, who of course is a flaky underdog that’s completely out of their league. So really, “Long Shot” is just like “Notting Hill” … if you remove the English humor and fill it with copious amounts of F-bombs and extremely R-rated gags.
That’s right, “Long Shot” is destined to be the rom-com of 2019. Even with a few over-the-top gross bits, it’s an adorable romance with two lovable characters that is loaded with political irreverence. It manages to slice politicians to shreds while making you fall in love with two people who are knee deep in it.
Seth Rogen is Fred Flarsky, an extremely committed liberal journalist who writes for a Brooklyn based news website.
When Fred learns that the site has been bought by a far-right media mogul (played to perfection by Andy Serkis), he valiantly quits his job and heads out for a drunken night with his best pal, Lance (O’Shea Jackson).
Since Lance is a rich guy with connections, they end up at an event that not only features a concert by Boyz II Men, it’s being attended by the Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). It turns out that Charlotte grew up next door to Fred and was his babysitter … and Fred has been smitten with her for his entire life.
Their chance encounter, along with Charlotte’s need to inject some personality into her upcoming presidential run, inspires her to hire Fred to punch up her speeches. He then tags along with Charlotte as she tours the world pushing a key program that would elevate her to frontrunner in the upcoming presidential election.
It’s fairly easy to guess where this story is going to end up, but director Jonathan Levine mixes it up enough to keep you on a decent emotional roller coaster. For every insanely funny sequence, there’s a quiet moment that is genuinely touching and sweet.
It also helps to have a phenomenal supporting cast, particularly Alexander Skarsgard as the vapid, style with no substance prime minister of Canada. His gross advances towards Charlotte are equal parts hilarious and cringy. However, the real scene stealer is Jackson. His timing is impeccable, and it is only a matter of time before he’s more than a supporting actor in a comedy such as this one.
At this point, Rogen has perfected the lovable loser role. He’s over the top when he needs to be and extremely grounded at the right moments. Even when he’s acting like a child, it’s still easy to root for him.
“Long Shot” firmly cements Charlize Theron as the current best actress alive. This actually may be her finest performance to date, which is saying something. There are moments when she runs comedic circles around Rogen, who isn’t exactly a rookie in the genre.
If the Oscars didn’t flat out ignore comedies, Theron would be your Best Actress leader in the clubhouse.
Nearly every single joke lands, but the main reason to see “Long Shot” is the superb and surprising love story. It’s completely unexpected and so darn charming that it’s impossible to resist.