Long Shot is a political Rom-Com starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. I’m a sucker for a good rom com, with Notting Hill and When Harry Met Sally being two of my favourites. What a joy then to say that Long Shot takes the best parts of both films, and makes an equally successful new film out of it.
Seth Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, a journalist who was baby sat by Charlize Theron’s Charlotte Field. Now, Charlotte is Secretary of State, and looking for a new speech writer. After a chance meet-cute at a Boyz II Men concert, the two will rekindle their friendship, and perhaps set alight something more. Like all great rom-coms, this film totally relies on the lead performances of Theron and Rogan, and unsurprisingly, they are both fantastic.
Seth Rogen does play his usual casual stoner dude, but similar to Kevin Hart in ‘The Upside’, he brings an emotional gravitas he doesn’t usually show. Seemingly, he’s learnt from his more serious roles in films like Steve Jobs, and he is now turning into a fully rounded actor. On the other hand, Theron has once again proven that she is a force to be reckoned with on all counts. Her comic timing is perfect, and her emotional weight is what the whole film rests on. Together, the two make a totally unlikely but completely winning pair that carry the film to a height few rom-coms reach.
Alongside the two of them are a hilarious O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Fred’s best friend Lance, June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel as Maggie and Tom, Charlotte’s advisors, and Alexander Skarsgard as the Prime Minister of Canada. Also in the cast are Bob Odenkirk as the President of the United States, and most unlikely, Andy Serkis under prosthetic make-up to make him look like an 80-year-old media mogul called Parker Wembley. The characters of the president and Wembley felt incredibly familiar. Odenkirk’s president was a TV star for many years before becoming the president, and Serkis’s Wembley runs a giant news conglomerate that has the president in their back pocket *cough* RUPERT MURDOCH AND FOX NEWS *cough*
The script, written by Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling, is another great balance of drama and comedy, and this is unsurprising. Hannah was the co-writer of Spielberg’s political drama, The Post, and Sterling was a head writer on The Office (US) for many years. Together, they have blended their two strengths very well and created a fun narrative that, while obviously cliché, does still subvert enough of the rom-com conventions to make it original. Particular highlights include an unlikely sex scene and an equally unlikely night club session. As is to be predicted, Seth Rogan’s pop-culture improv skills seemed to be on hand as well, with funny one liners like “I 69-ed Fidel Castro once” and “I’m more scared now than when I was in a lift with Saddam Hussein” being particular highlights.
The film clearly owes a lot to several of my favourite rom-coms. When Harry Met Sally tells the story of two old friends who slowly grow to love one another after knowing each other for many years. Notting Hill tells the story of an ordinary (okay, ordinary by Hugh Grant standards) guy who happens to meet and develop a relationship with a huge movie megastar. This film feels very reminiscent of these themes, complete with having a similar epilogue to When Harry Met Sally, and several key plot points taken straight out of Notting Hill.
Overall, Long Shot is a winning rom-com with a great cast and hilariously obvious political parallels. While not every single joke lands, a hell of a lot of them do, and the story and heart, driven by two fantastic leads, mean that the film almost justifies its two-hour runtime.