I miss rom-coms.
Of course Long Shot is completely implausible and far-fetched, but that’s all part of the fun. Rom-coms are fairy tales; it’s laughable in real life that a prostitute and a business tycoon would end up together, but it’s a form of escapism that audiences absolutely adore and Pretty Woman is still considered one of the all time greats.
The premise of Long Shot is as corny and silly as it comes; Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogan) is a New York journalist with a dislike for corruption and big corporations who runs into his high school crush Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) who is now Secretary of State. She is impressed with his writing and decides to hire him as a writer to help inject some humour into her speeches during a worldwide tour prior to announcing her candidacy for presidency.
I was a little nervous about this; on paper the idea of Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen together is absurd and it had been quite a while since Notting Hill so I wasn’t sure if it would work. She is as glamorous and breathtakingly beautiful as he is schlubby and awkward, and Theron isn’t necessarily known for her comedic roles either so I more or less expected Long Shot to be Knocked Up all over again. But it’s not; Theron is so likeable and warm and funny that she keeps up with Rogan effortlessly. I hope she starts taking more of these roles; Rogen and Theron somehow work together and I bought into the fantasy and wanted them to live happily ever after.
The premise isn’t really the important thing here; any rom com with a bad script and leads with no chemistry can turn disastrous very quickly. Luckily the makers of Long Shot understand this; the two leads are endearing and have an effortless appeal together. The quirky supporting characters have fun moments as well, especially Charlotte’s sassy advisor (June Diane Raphael) and Fred’s fast talking best friend (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who have some of the funniest lines in the movie.
The best parts of the film are where Theron and Rogen are able to riff off each other, and there are a few scenes that are thrown in to perhaps change it up a bit, but for me were inconsistent in tone and kind of annoying. The one that comes to mind just now is where Charlotte is required to conduct a hostage negotiation while still high on ecstasy from a night out with Fred. This sequence made me cringe so badly; the jokes were flat and the schtick of a drunk or high official somehow saving the day because they’ve lost their inhibitions has never really worked for me anyway.
Luckily there are only a handful of these scenes throughout; for the most part, the comedy was clever and fresh and comes mainly from the banter between the two immensely likeable leads rather than stand alone gags. Though I think my favourite scene in the movie, or in any movie for the last little while actually, is where Fred and Charlotte are attending a black tie dinner, and take a moment to dance in a side room to “It must have been love” by Roxette. They’re goofy and endearing and in a moment any doubt about the plausibility of the two of them flies out the window.
Long Shot is far from perfect, but for me this is everything you could want in a classic rom com; I laughed a lot, I teared up a couple of times and I left the cinema feeling warm and fuzzy in a way that those Richard Curtis or Judd Apatow movies used to. I hope the classic rom-com is making a comeback; Long Shot may not be one of the best, but it sure is a great reminder of why so many people love them.
By Jock Lehman