Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Alexander Skarsgård
Jonathan Levine gets back in the saddle with Seth Rogen in this latest comedy hoping to join the esteemed pantheon of ‘better than average’ efforts we’ve had in recent years. Add in Charlize Theron, Andy Serkis, O’Shea Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, and Alexander Skarsgård and suddenly things start to look up. The movie follows Rogan’s Fred Flarsky, an unemployed journalist/loser, as he reconnects with his old babysitter Charlotte Field – who is now the US Secretary of State and has requested Flarsky’s skills for her campaign. Will love blossom for the unlikely couple?
Let’s ask the million dollar question – is Long Shot funny? To not be too specific, over 50% of it is. Between 50-65% to be slightly more specific. The majority of the gags land in the first half of the movie where Long Shot is arguably at its strongest. The second half falls too far away from what was nicely established previously and becomes stock comedy – complete with wacky drugs skits and masturbation japes – and really drags the movie down. It’s not just crude jokes, there’s political satire dribbling from most scenes – and essentially caricatures of Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau, amongst others – but, again, these aren’t that well fleshed out to be all that effective. The challenges Theron’s Charlotte faces for having the temerity to be a woman are better established and shine more light on the issues in the world today. Real issues.
The unlikely pairing of Rogen and Theron works surprisingly well which is handy because if it didn’t, Long Shot would really have sunk. The chemistry is fine and their consistent back-and-forths provide the highlights of the movie. The rest of the cast play up to their caricature images – Serkis is big and sleazy playing Parker Wembley, a grubby media mogul, and Skarsgård is easier on the eye and charming as the Canadian PM. O’Shea Jackson was my highlight, he just seems so effortlessly funny and is a nice foil to Rogen’s dafter humour. The writing, too, is hit-and-miss. Flarksy is hired by Charlotte for his ability with words and to script her speeches, but, really, this is very quickly relegated to a meaningless aspect of the story in favour of higher raunch and higher jinx. The pop culture references already feel out of date and clunky, it’s so hard to make a reference stick and Long Shot really doesn’t achieve this.
At the end of the day, Long Shot exists to be a crowd-pleaser, a heart-warmer. It’s rom-com 101 in terms of narrative and beats so your mileage will depend solely on your tolerance. Again, the first half is great fun – learning about the characters and how they deal with re-connecting / dealing with being the fish out of water, etc. The humour felt natural and there was a nice flow to things. The second half felt rushed and less smooth as Long Shot hurtled towards its inevitable conclusion. The good does outweigh the bad but, honestly, not by a long shot.
May 3rd 2019