Two and a half out of four stars
Netflix recently posted something on Twitter demanding its own customers stop referring to “romantic comedies” as “chick flicks.” In addition to being quite unnecessary, this petty admonishment shows just how silly political correctness has become. Why should anyone care?
“Long Shot” is a romantic comedy that few people would call a “chick flick.” While it contains many of the same overlapping elements, it’s not something fitting in with the typical PG-13 movie geared toward female and couples audiences.
Given it was co-produced and co-stars Seth Rogen, that doesn’t isn’t much of a surprise. One of the more successful dispensers of bromance raunch, Rogen’s brand of humor and his everyman delivery made “Knocked-Up” a surprise blockbuster hit. And if you liked that film, you will probably enjoy “Long Shot” just as much.
Co-penned by Dan Sterling (Rogen’s “The Interview”) and Liz Hannah (“The Post”) — two writers with considerable political chops — the stabs at satire land frequently and cut deep. Skewering the current U.S. president, the opponent he defeated, a Roger Ailes doppelganger (an unrecognizable Andy Serkis under pounds of prosthetics and makeup), various spinners, advisors, handlers, PR specialists and even Mideast terrorists, “Long Shot” often takes on the air of an irreverent “The West Wing” or a risqué version of “Dave.” The art-imitating-life-imitating-art thing rules the first act and arguably marks the production’s creative and entertainment high-water mark.
Working for a flighty TV star-turned-president (Bob Odenkirk) she doesn’t like or respect, Secretary of State Charlottle Field (Charlize Theron) still has to make nice with him. Since he plans on serving just a single term, she needs his endorsement for her own White House run, which she gets.
Before heading out on a worldwide tour promoting “global warming” awareness, Field meets with a focus group run by Katherine (Lisa Kudrow in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her cameo) who lets her know voters are confident in her abilities but find her somewhat aloof and lacking a sense of humor. (Sound familiar?)
Field’s gruff and can’t-be-bothered chief of staff Maggie Millikin (scene stealer June Diane Raphael) wants to hire a team of seasoned writers to liven up her boss’ speeches, and Field agrees but changes her mind after running into Fred Flarsky (Rogen), a neighbor she babysat decades earlier.
Flarsky shows up alongside his best bud, Lance (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), at a cocktail party which is also attended by Field — with entertainment provided by Boyz II Men. Not a lick of it feels natural.
Prone to wearing nylon jump suits, “investigative journalist” Flarsky recently infiltrated a Nazi skinhead group. That was followed by his resignation/firing from a political rag owned by the Serkis character who is also at the party (of course). The Serkis character is seemingly bent on either bedding Field or ruining her — it’s never made clear.
After a bonehead move attempting to defend Field’s honor, Flarsky takes a header down a flight of stairs right into her heart and the hackneyed “situation” of this comedy is firmly established.
Although roughly the same age, Field and Flarsky are the epitome of the “May/December” romance archtype — one which will only work in the world of movie make believe. It seems as though Theron’s character exists solely for making life — and the pursuit of romance — easier for Flarsky.
The tossing in of ’90s has-beens Boyz II Men only makes the dated and arcane male-female dynamic all the more troubling. Is it plausible for an accomplished woman running for the highest office in the free world to regularly compromise herself to secure the conditional affections of a man whose attitude towards women and fashion sense is still stuck in the ’80s? Field legitimizes her decision by lecturing Millikin on the pair’s “history” and how he “gets her.”
Fine — he gets her. Any seasoned, unmarried politician would never allow a non-married person to be on their staff and in their bedroom at the same time, but there would be no movie if the film followed that logic.
After Theron recently bemoaned her own personal life in interviews stating multiple times she was “very available” — maybe having her character hook up with Rogen’s is indeed within the realm of plausibility.
It’s worth noting that the R rating for “Long Shot” is well deserved. Although there is no nudity, a carefully blocked sex scene is included. And while drug use isn’t rampant, there is an extended scene with Field and Flarsky going overboard with mollies (MDMA methamphetamines) while clubbing. And as with most Rogen films, there is a barrage of F-bombs.
If you are looking for something to do on a first (or third) date, you might want to steer clear. “Long Shot” is for firmly established couples and dedicated political junkies only.