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Long Shot (Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron) - DVD Review

Longshot

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

PRETTY Woman meets Dave with a post-modern twist in Long Shot, a Seth Rogen rom-com that offers an enjoyably flawed crowd-pleasing experience.

Directed by Jonathan Levine from a script by Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling, the film thrives on the unlikely chemistry between Rogen and leading lady Charlize Theron and has plenty to say about equality and female empowerment in this post-Time’s Up world.

But it stumbles during its raunchier moments, threatening to undermine its own message, while also delivering an ending that’s way too hopeful in the current political environment.

That being said, it’s a bold move to set a romantic comedy amid the world of politics, which is prepared to tackle hot button issues such as male chauvinism and environmental protection. It’s perhaps why the film struggled to resonate with audiences during its cinematic run.

But that would be to overlook the fun that is to be gained from tuning in. Rogen stars as newly out-of-work journalist Fred Flarsky who unwittingly reunites with childhood crush Charlotte Field (Theron) at a swanky party.

When the pair click, US Secretary of State Charlotte decides to hire Flarsky in a bid to increase her ratings popularity as she launches a Presidential bid at the same time as a bold new environmental agenda. But complications ensue when the two develop feelings for each other, with Flarsky’s often outrageous behaviour seemingly destined to derail the campaign.

Having worked with Rogen before, on cancer comedy-drama 50/50, director Levine has previous experience of what makes a Rogen comedy shine. Hence, he plays up the stoner elements and keeps the laughs as slapstick and vulgar as Knocked Up rather than going for anything more outwardly biting and cynical than, say, TV’s Veep.

And by dropping in an obvious reference to Pretty Woman, he also winks to the audience that this is more wish fulfilment fantasy than semi-serious comedy-drama. Taken solely on that level, it’s hard not to give in to the film’s many charms, especially as the script is still capable of taking aim at the current distrust people have with politicians, while pointing out the need for action on global warming and for society to change some its more retrograde views on women.

It’s just a shame, therefore, that a little more care couldn’t have been taken during the film’s more vulgar moments. A sex scene in which Theron’s character apparently takes control and asks Rogen to slap her on the arse and choke her a bit is a backward step and not in keeping with the overall tone, while it’s disappointingly low-brow to find the film’s pivotal moment rests on whether the public is willing to accept a masturbating boyfriend as an unlikely romantic character (even if, as suspected, said masturbation has been inserted as a male equivalent to prostitution).

Criticisms aside, Long Shot does still rate as a success, not least because of the winning charisma of its central pairing. Rogen, to be fair, is on auto-pilot but does Rogen so very well. There’s a lot to like in his unlikely rise to romantic leading man.

Theron, though, is the revelation, tapping into a natural instinct for comedy in effortless fashion, yet also bringing the required steel as a successful business-woman, as well as a touch of vulnerability that makes her very human and endearing.

There’s strong support, too, from the likes of Bob Odenkirk as a brilliantly observed ‘TV obsessed’ President, Alexander Skarsgård as a somewhat goofy Canadian president and potential love rival, and an unrecognisable Andy Serkis as a blatant Rupert Murdoch caricature.

A lot of the comedy is also laugh out loud funny, while the feel-good elements really do provide that sugar-rush feeling of escapist excitement that the best Hollywood rom-coms always do.

Long Shot succeeds in spite of its shortcomings to emerge as another winning comedy from team Rogen that deftly balances big laughs with genuine romance and worthwhile political and social comment. It deserves to find an appreciative audience.

Certificate: 15
Running time: mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: August 19, 2019

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