Monday 18 April 2022

Movie Review: Long Shot (2019)

A romantic comedy, Long Shot is a standard opposites attract plot cluttered with guileless profanity.

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a frumpled liberal writer for a small online publication. He quits his job when a right-wing tycoon purchases the website. Meanwhile, sleek and popular US Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) decides to run for President when the current doofus incumbent President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) announces he will not be seeking re-election. 

When they were kids, Fred and Charlotte were neighbours and she used to babysit him. Now they bump into each other again at a charity event. Charlotte is launching an international environmental initiative as a platform for her campaign, and hires Fred to sharpen her speeches. He joins her entourage, they get reacquainted and fall in love, but her glamorous image may be harmed if their relationship becomes public. Meanwhile, Fred is exposed to the distasteful art of political compromise.

Directed by Jonathan Levine with a script by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, Long Shot is a straightforward boy meets girl romance with the added glitz of diplomatic circles but an incongruous amount of vulgarity. Obscenities are meant to be funny as a jarringly inconsistent addition to the staid world of Secretary of State, but here the foul language and sex-obsessed references are a cheap crutch for often witless dialogue and a paucity of clever ideas.

In relative terms the first half is better, establishing the separate worlds of Fred and Charlotte then reuniting them as they embark on a world tour of cocktail parties and speeches to international diplomats. A certain charm develops as their relationship deepens and they fall into a romance literally under fire.

But with the original elements already exhausted, another hour needs to be burned, and Long Shot stumbles through the necessary relationship complications, here mushing politics with drugs and masturbation to ensure Seth Rogen's man-child fans get their fix of guffaws. The reconciliation and moments of sudden self-awareness arrive on cue.

With Theron slumming it in Rogen's default world, the secondary characters and subplots never register as anything other than distractions. June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel are the Secretary's two key staffers, O'Shea Jackson Jr. is Fred's best pal, and Alexander SkarsgÄrd is the Prime Minister of Canada; they all leave a nil impression.

In better hands and with higher aim an elegant comedy was within reach, but this Long Shot falls well short.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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