Film Review: Long Shot
Given the… tumultuous state of American politics, it’s no surprise that creators have been lining up to confront this issue.
Long Shot is the first film for some time that’s attempted to address this in the form of a classic, Hollywood rom-com. (Insert The American President comparisons here.)
Charlize Theron stars as the hard working Secretary of State, Charlotte Field, who plans to run for President in the forthcoming election. Unfortunately, her team’s research reveals that the American public don’t find her “funny” enough.
In response, Charlotte hires the witty but controversial journalist, Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) to inject humour into her speeches.
When a deep-seeded romance begins to spark between the two, political differences and public perception conspire to make any lasting relationship seem impossible.
Long Shot has plenty to say politically. Its criticisms of the unfair double-standards placed on women and the shallow mindset of the American voter are clearly valid.
However, the message can’t help but feel hollow when its addressed through paper-thin caricatures and humour that jumps from commentary to slapstick to gross-out-gags seemingly at random.
The supporting cast are all largely wasted as tragically shallow allegories of real life figures. Bob Odenkirk is President Trump. Andy Serkis is Rupert Murdoch. Alexander Skarsgard is Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Sure, they all have different names in the film, but we know who they’re supposed to be.
In theory, this is fine. Just like the film’s themes, these are figures that certainly warrant a satirical deconstruction. However, Long Shot’s willingness to make the lazy, obvious joke every time leaves zero lasting impression. Even if it feels good in the moment.
It’s a film that mocks how easy it is to win over audiences with cheap nostalgia gags then spends a considerable amount of time trying to win over audiences with cheap nostalgia gags.
To be fair, it works. This movie is undeniably adorable.
Here’s a thought that will shock absolutely no one: Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen are both really talented. They find a way to keep us invested in this story of unlikely lovers.
We laugh at most of the jokes. We’re warmed by most of the heartfelt moments.
Director Jonathan Levine is perfectly competent behind the camera, even if his previous works (including Rogen collaboration, 50/50) suggests that he’s capable of more.
Long Shot absolutely succeeds as a feel-good rom-com but fails as a modern political satire.
Ultimately – despite an inflated two-hour run time- it’s impossible to be both.
You can try, but it’s a long shot.
Long Shot opens in Australian cinemas on May 2, 2019.