For the better part of the past decade-and-a-half, director Jonathan Levine has enjoyed a solid run of quality films, which despite such near-misses as 2015’s The Night Before and 2017’s Snatched, does contain such gems as the 2011 sleeper hit 50/50 and 2013’s woefully underrated Warm Bodies. Two years removed from the dreadful Snatched, Levine has once again teamed up with Seth Rogen, who previously featured heavily in 50/50 and The Night Before, who himself once again joins forces with longtime producing partner Evan Goldberg and writers Dan Sterling & Liz Hannah for Long Shot, a simple, fantastic little political comedy that succeeds on nearly every level and rich with desperately needed laughs that couldn’t have left me any more pleased.
The premise revolves around Rogen, a recently unemployed journalist who, after an encounter with his childhood babysitter (Charlize Theron), now Secretary of State of the United States, becomes her official speechwriter and inevitable love interest utilizing the same tried-and-true formula of every iconic rom-com. Along the way, the two must deal with the potential public perception of the two as a couple, a business mogul (Andy Serkis) who represents everything the anarchic Rogen has come to despise, and a president (Bob Odenkirk), who just might be poised to endorse Theron’s own run for office if she’ll compromise her longstanding value system. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, and thus isn’t without its share of cinematic cliché.
However, the oft-vulgar, hysterical screenplay and believable chemistry between Rogen and Theron carry the film, though every cast member receives their own moments to shine and make the most of their respective role(s), no matter the size. With a pedigree that includes an Oscar, a Golden Globe and countless stellar performances over the past 20+ years, Charlize Theron proves she has a gift for comedy, with Rogen again holding his own in this regard as he’s done numerous times prior. O’Shea Jackson Jr. , five years following his star making turn playing his own father in Straight Outta Compton, clearly has some genuine talent with a natural performance as Rogen’s best friend & confidant, while Andy Serkis, the grandfather of motion capture, finds himself hidden under some (deliberately?) ridiculous makeup and once again adopting a somewhat off-putting voice that’s easily excused if for no other reason than the fact that it’s Andy Serkis-by playing his villainous character drastically over the top, it somehow works. Bob Odenkirk’s POTUS is perfectly Bob Odenkirk, even if he may be saddled with some of the weaker jokes of the film, but June Diane Raphael & Ravi Patel take their roles as Theron’s advisors and play them straight, which makes their comedic delivery stick the landing with every funny line. Even Alexander Skarsgard as the Canadian Prime Minister gets some genuine chuckles, as do Paul Sheer & Lisa Kudrow with minuscule parts as, respectively, a TMZ-esque talk show host & focus group leader. Plus, let’s be honest-any film that gives the likes of Lil Yachty one of the funniest lines is deserving of some serious praise.
In what could be seen as a raunchy take on The American President or even Pretty Woman, Long Shot takes the predictable, similar route it pursues and beefs up the humor tremendously, in the process creating a film that completely caught me off guard with how much I enjoyed its fantastic cast and fine script. Seth Rogen’s track record may have its share of misfires, but in playing a reliable character we’ve seen time & time again it’s another reminder of how likeable he is and how Levine clearly still has life helming future efforts of this ilk. In a time when the year thus far has been frontloaded with sequel upon sequel, to find a movie such as this feels like a sincere breath of fresh air, when all there is to do is turn off your brain and have a good laugh. I truly wish success upon Long Shot, even as it finds itself positioned within a crowded early summer theatrical season-it may be a long shot to win major box office, but I still hope that it does.