I get why a lot of people really don’t like Seth Rogen. He can’t make a movie without basically playing himself or inserting as many sex and drug jokes as possible, even if sometimes they don’t fit. But I’m about 50/50 on his recent output, so it’s fitting that the director of the film 50/50, Jonathan Levine, directed the new Rogen co-starring romantic comedy Long Shot.
Like 50/50, which co-starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Rogen’s friend struggling with cancer, Long Shot places Rogen alongside a more widely-beloved actor and yields great results. It also clearly has more on its mind than a typical Rogen vehicle, although it is more of a straight comedy than the former.
Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is an aggressively progressive journalist who we first meet doing some quite dangerous investigative reporting. Because we’re right there with him, we know what he’s all about and we care about him as more than a joke machine. Charlize Theron plays Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State for a laughably egotistical President, a semi-analogue to Trump played by Bob Odenkirk. He’s not seeking re-election, so he decides to endorse her. After meeting at a party, Charlotte and Fred rekindle their friendship from years ago, when Charlotte was Fred’s babysitter (as conveyed in a hilarious flashback sequence).
After reading some of his writing, Charlotte decides to bring Fred on as a punch-up writer as she tries to build up her broader appeal and image for a Presidential run. Initially, there are major roadblocks to Fred’s success. His more in-your-face style doesn’t jive with anyone in Charlotte’s inner circle except for Charlotte. But by toning it down in some respects, he makes serious inroads, and ultimately finds himself in bed with her.
There are so many real belly laughs in this thing, and it’s a wonder that it all balances out. It’s got raunch and sweetness and some decent political satire all rolled into one very entertaining package. Both Rogen and Theron have big individual comedy moments that range from the very high-brow to the very broad. I think one of the best things you can say about this movie is that it feels like it comes from one succinct voice, even though it’s got lots of different types of comedy and many, many, many different comedians showing up for cameos and supporting roles.
Long Shot is the perfect summer rom-com. It leaves you smiling, laughing, and it’s got some great surprises along the way. We may be looking at one of the biggest hits of the summer.
‘Long Shot’ opens wide on May 3