SXSW 2019: “Long Shot” Review
I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m usually not a big fan of Seth Rogen and seeing the trailer for the film didn’t do much to pique my interest, but I’ll admit, I was wrong, and Long Shot is the surprise hit of SXSW. Fred Flarsky is a journalist who tends to skew to the left and be a bit over the top with his work and enthusiasm. When his company is bought out by a huge conglomerate run by Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis), he quits in protest to the purchase.
Down on his luck and feeling sorry for himself, his friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) takes him to a wildlife fundraising party. Once there, he sees that his former babysitter and secret crush, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) the Secretary of State was there. In an unlikely turn of events, he ends up becoming her speechwriter and their relationship begins to blossom and change. The current President (Bob Odenkirk) no longer wants to be President, so it is Charlotte’s chance to get his endorsement and prove herself as a great candidate for President.
When I first saw the trailer earlier this month, I thought there is no way that Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen could have the chemistry to pull off a romantic comedy together. The two just didn’t seem to mesh in my mind and made me fearful that the film wouldn’t deliver. Surprisingly, Charlize and Seth have fantastic chemistry together that makes the audience champion their relationship. Charlotte is poised, proper, educated, and beautiful while Fred is a bit gruff and rough around the edges. This combination works so well in creating a dynamic that works for the audience. The give and take of navigating two people coming together is on full display in the film. Charlize gives such a varied performance in this role that is different than anything she usually does, and she is phenomenal. Her comedic timing is spot on and gives it her all. Seth Rogen is my favorite version of Seth Rogen in the film where he is not too over the top and toned down, allowing audiences to love and appreciate his performance that is both emotional, honest, and funny.
The supporting cast is perfect. Andy Serkis is 100% unrecognizable in the film, and I was shocked to see it was him as Parker Wembley. O’Shea Jackson Jr. proves once again that he has the talent and the drive to be getting more and more roles. Hollywood, you need to put him in more films. He’s a real talent. Bob Odenkirk as the President fully embraces his character and brings the touch that only Bob Odenkirk can to this character. Alexander Skarsgård has a smaller but significant role that pokes fun at another public figure, which he does so well. I forget that in addition to his serious roles like those in Big Little Lies and The East, he can also tackle awkward comedic roles as well.
It has to be noted that the writing by Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling is superb. It strikes the perfect balance between crude and intelligent humor as well as heartfelt moments, making Long Shot a roaring success. There are lines in the film that were missed because the audience was laughing so loudly at something that was said a few minutes before. It is easily one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a while. The writers also don’t hold back with their commentary on the state of our country from the very beginning of the film. There are jokes that are very pointed towards certain people in the public eye and they are done so well and tastefully that it is perfect.
Jonathan Levine has created something this is sure to be a massive hit with audiences. He has taken two very unlikely actors together and made something that is hilarious, intelligent, heartfelt, and just a total blast. Long Shot is easily the biggest surprise at SXSW that will have audiences laughing to the point of tears. Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron hit it out of the park, making Long Shot an irresistible crowd-pleaser that shouldn’t be missed.