With rom-coms a rarity these days at the multiplex (the last rom-com to leave an impression was the Academy Award nominated The Big Sick in 2017), it’s a surprise Lionsgate decided to release one in Long Shot. But considering Lionsgate released The Big Sick, too, they likely saw potential in director Jonathan Levine’s (Snatched, Warm Bodies, 50/50) latest. Long Shot stars Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron and is based on a script co-written by Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling. Long Shot goes further into obscurity as it takes place within the political world. Theron plays Charlotte Field, current Secretary of State with dreams of winning the Presidency. Rogen is Fred Flarsky, an unemployed journalist who joins Field’s staff as her speech writer.

Charlotte and Fred already know each other as she used to babysit him back in high school. Their familiarity with each other is not lost on Charlotte, and to become more relatable to the voting public she hires Fred to punch up her speeches as they travel the world to promote an environmental bill. Of course, since Rogen’s involved you know hijinks will ensue. What makes this concept interesting is Theron, who rarely takes on comedic roles (unless you count Reindeer Games).

Theron took a dip in the comedy pool last year with the action-comedy Gringo, and she was memorable enough as a shrew to go a bit further in Long Shot. With this effort Theron plays the straight and her commanding, distinguished and demure persona is essential in winning over voters. Field and her team are planting seeds for a presidential run but while doing that Charlotte and Fred spend time getting to know each other again (all with humor and embarrassment, of course). The odd couple is an age-old television trope, but it’s worked for years. It works here, too, although the tough part is making it work for 122 minutes (for the most part, Long Shot does).

While on the subject of odd couples, the Theron-Rogen chemistry is the biggest reason Long Shot works. I normally wouldn’t believe someone as beautiful as Charlize Theron would remotely consider dating normal-looking Seth Rogen. But since Charlotte and Fred already know each other and share same interests, that notion is feasible. In addition, the idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” rings loudly, and it’s comforting to see a film go that route.

Using a political setting is novel since political rom-coms aren’t common. Thanks to Veep, though, political backdrops are comedy gold, and Long Shot does well to tap into that. Combined with the odd couple pairing, Long Shot is more layered comedy than one might imagine.

Probably Long Shot’s biggest drawback is the humor, at least its consistency. Hannah and Sterling tried their best to be vulgar while retaining some tact. There is one scene which would never make it into a traditional rom-com, but with Rogen on board it’s par for the course. Long Shot is mostly vulgar-free, but I would’ve liked to have seen them get a bit more raunchy.

And you’d think after Endgame two hours would be a breeze. Long Shot drags at times and could’ve benefitted more from a shorter runtime.

Otherwise, Long Shot is a fun film with some good humor within an unlikely, but believable romance. Theron and Rogen go all in and share surprisingly likeable chemistry, and its underdog theme is sure to win over viewers.

Also, keep an eye out for memorable turns from O’Shea Jackson Jr., precious Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk and Alexander Skarsgård.

3.5 stars out of 5


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