Long Shot is being advertised as the love story where schlubby Seth Rogen gets to date glamorous Charlize Theron. That standard rom-com premise is actually a misdirect for a poignant commentary on politics and social misogyny in general. I’m overselling it a tad. It’s not Dave or Election, but it does have something to say while it delivers the laughs, and I agree with its message.
Fred Flarsky (Rogen) knew Secretary of State Charlotte Fields (Theron) when they were kids. When they meet as adults it’s perfect timing. Charlotte is prepping a presidential run but needs a speechwriter who can help her be perceived as funnier.
Even before the romance begins, this is a comedy about values and integrity. Fred immediately questions Charlotte’s policy because he comes from the world of journalism. He tries fighting for his convictions but politics be politics and the job’s the job. Fred can still help her deliver her message, but Charlotte is still going to play politics.
Charlotte is playing politics in a world where she knows she’s judged unfairly as a woman. She’s aware that she can’t be too angry or vulnerable. It’s wrong but she can do more good if she navigates the system than if she outright rejects it. Women in politics are also expected to keep unhealthy, unreasonable schedules. Charlotte wakes up at 3:30AM to begin her routine (which she’s aware has to include beauty), multitasks while working out and takes standing naps. That last one is comedic but maybe the amount of work a human being can accomplish in 16 hours is good enough. Anything more can wait until tomorrow.
The unlikely lovers trope can be dangerous when the woman is presented as a man’s reward. That’s not why Fred and Charlotte get together in Long Shot. Long Shot is about a real connection between two full characters. The complications they face are deeper than how they look, although how Fred dresses is a legitimate issue.
Charlotte’s schedule is a challenge for Fred. That is legitimate for any couple with two different professions. I can attest that journalism doesn’t mesh well with a partner in a 9 to 5 job. Fred’s politics are tough even for someone who agrees with him. Fred wrote for a liberal website. Even a liberal politician can’t be as die hard liberal as he is. Then there’s the reality of the unfair scrutiny on who a female politician is dating.
The biggest laughs in Long Shot are the one liners that come at the end of a scene. At that point they’ve moved the plot along and can just throw something good out there. Theron does an excellent spit take and June Diane Raphael and O’shea Jackson, Jr. play standout supporting characters.
It’s not a long shot to say that Long Shot will make you laugh, so take a shot on this safe bet! Too much? Sorry, I started to think like a speech writer. Long Shot is good.