Movie Guru: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron fun in surprisingly charming ‘Long Shot’
Rated: R for strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use
Screenplay by: Erica Rivinoja, Alison Peck, and Vivian Wang, based on characters by David Horvath and Sun-min Kim
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis and more
Guru’s grade: Three stars
Seth Rogen is a much better actor when he has to perform someone else’s script.
That’s definitely the case with “Long Shot,” a surprisingly sweet and occasionally insightful look at relationships and American politics. Yes, there is some raunch, but there’s also a likeable romance and a light sprinkling of real thoughtfulness. Add the delightful Charlize Theron to the mix, and you end up with a movie that’s more watchable than it possibly should be.
The plot follows Rogen, a journalist for a small, independent paper who quits his job after it gets bought out by a massive conglomerate. Soon after this he runs into Theron, his childhood babysitter who went on to become the secretary of state. He becomes her speechwriter when she runs for president, but the duo faces plenty of challenges when it comes to following both the truth and their hearts.
For a movie starring Rogen, “Long Shot” touches on some surprisingly heavy stuff. A fairly sizeable theme is the extra scrutiny women go through on the public stage, as well as how skills are overlooked in favor of superficial nonsense. It also emphasizes that the latter is true of politics in general, as well as the way it tries to force even good people to compromise their ideals in order to play the game. There is also some exploration of what it takes to make a relationship work and how it changes you to be in one.
Average Stoner Comedy?
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That’s a lot for a movie that also includes a comedic fall down a long staircase and masturbation as a key plot point. There’s also a fairly long sequence where Theron is both on the job and high as a metaphorical kite. It’s entertaining enough I don’t want to say more, but it’s definitely no more nuanced than your average stoner comedy.
The juxtaposition of the two is a bit surreal but also somehow weirdly likeable. “Long Shot” is like the cinematic equivalent of a stoner who always gave surprisingly thoughtful comments in his political science and women’s studies classes. You can’t exactly claim they’re a rousing success, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable to hang out with them for a little while.
Theron reminds us all that she’s absolutely fantastic in comedies, and I urge Hollywood to look past her perfect cheekbones and utilize her more fully. Rogen is a more well-rounded version of the character he usually plays. Instead of a walking stereotype, he’s a genuine, feeling human who just happens to be a complete idiot sometimes. They’re surprisingly cute together, enough that it’s possible to overlook how amazingly out of his league she is.
One complaint I heard as I left the theater was that the ending wasn’t “realistic,” but who watches Rogen comedies for realism? As far as fantasies go, this one is far more worthy than many of them.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.