A political rom-com that pairs Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen is a [insert movie title]. Fortunately, the movie eases you into it by immediately starting with Rogen’s investigative journalist character infiltrating a Neo-Nazi group.
Yeah, it’s about as jarring an opening as you’d think based on that description – and it also sets up Long Shot’s biggest problem. The movie certainly touches on a lot of hot button issues, from the deep divide in American politics and the uphill battle that female politicians face, to environmentalism and the corrosive influence of big money media moguls.
However, to say that Long Shot falls short of being a clever satirical takedown of American politics would be an understatement. The movie’s politics are muddled and broad, showing a clear bias while simultaneously struggling with some weak arguments about compromise and the importance of seeing things from both sides.
The political backdrop is neither exaggerated/ridiculous enough to be effectively milked for jokes, nor is it insightful enough to really say anything of note.
Long Shot is at its best when it’s the story of two people from vastly different backgrounds who fall for each other – Rogen’s incendiary journalist and Theron’s immaculate Secretary of State.
The pair have good chemistry together and watching them bond and eventually bone is fun. It’s an unlikely, but ultimately believable pairing. It works as well as it does because of how effectively Charlize Theron balances the dignified side of her character with the impish.
Seth Rogen is fully within his wheelhouse – the premise is basically ‘what if you threw Seth Rogen into a world that he’s completely not used to?’. That friction gets a few laughs when you put him in a ridiculous Swedish outfit or have him pepper a big speech with a ton of profanities.
The humour is crude and juvenile, with more hits than misses for the most part. It’s on the lighter side of infantile, only rarely dipping its toes into some risque punchlines. It mixes well with the romantic stuff.
The supporting cast is alright. O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays Rogen’s best friend, and even though the character gets shortchanged by the movie’s confused politics, he’s still fun to be around. June Diane Raphael is great as a member of Theron’s staff with a strong dislike of Rogen’s character.
Bob Odenkirk stops by for a few scenes as a buffoonish TV-actor turned president – he gets one good joke. Then there’s an almost unrecognisable Andy Serkis as a sleazy media mogul. I really wish they went all out with him, a-la Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder but sadly, the character’s a pretty one-note villain.
Overall, Long Shot is an OK comedy with a solid pair of leads that feels trapped by its political setting, rather than enhanced by it.
Long Shot is out now, distributed by Lionsgate.