In no universe would a woman like Charlize Theron go out with a guy like Seth Rogen – at least, not in the universe of Long Shot, the new comedy by Jonathan Levine that had its premiere at this year’s SXSW film fest. Levine’s resume may not be that long, but his working relationship with Rogen is already well-established, and it’s resulted in a filmography full of culty comedies and little charmers. My personal favorite (Warm Bodies) doesn’t actually involve Rogen at all, but, like Long Shot, it involves a guy – or, in this case, zombie – pursuing a woman he has no business pursuing.
Long Shot (formerly titled Flarsky) commits even harder to this concept. Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is an outspoken journalist whose life is in shambles after he rashly quits his job at the local paper. Through a set of rom-com circumstances, he is reintroduced to his former babysitter and childhood crush, Charlotte Field (Theron), who is now the U.S. Secretary of State. She invites him to join her team as her speechwriter, and during the whirlwind trip, the two grow closer and slowly fall for each other – but him being a schlubby hot mess threatens to derail her political aspirations.
It’s a rom-com, so of course, the storyline is anything but complex. But it’s a great time at the movies. Here are three reasons to see Long Shot when it hits theaters.
1. It Is Laugh-Until-You-Cry Funny
Look, we all know Seth Rogen’s brand of comedy by now. It’s crass, clueless, and over-the-top. If that’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. But if bawdy body humor and f-bombs don’t offend your sensibilities, Long Shot is side-splittingly funny. The movie leans into physical comedy in a big way thanks to Rogen, with a few centerpiece sequences that will leave you in tears of laughter. The supporting cast is also stellar, each bringing their own comedic flair to the movie, whether Randall Park as Fred’s put-upon editor, Bob Odenkirk as the clueless and self-important U.S. President, Lisa Kudrow as a daffy image consultant, O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Fred’s ride-or-die best friend, or June Diane Raphael as Charlotte’s acerbic adviser. Part of the magic of rom-coms (and just com-coms) are the ensemble casts that play small but crucial roles, and the best ones allow each supporting actor to play to their strengths. Long Shot does, and the result is that while the lion’s share of work is handled by Rogen and Theron, the supporting cast puts their own comedy stamp on the movie.
2. ’90s Nostalgia Is Officially Here
Now that ’80s nostalgia has been done to death, Hollywood is turning to nostalgia for the ’90s. Long Shot is rife with nods and references to the decade. Boyz II Men plays a part (and happily crashed the Q&A session after the screening) in one of the funniest scenes in the entire movie. Children of the ’90s will find touchstones littered all throughout the movie, but they’re never so blatant as to be gimmicky. It’s a warm blanket made of “Motownphilly” and Hypercolor t-shirts.
A little more jarring are the numerous Marvel references and Easter eggs all throughout Long Shot, specifically, MCU-related ones. Samuel L. Jackson is referenced at least twice; Fred chastizes Charlotte for never having seen a Marvel movie and sets out to remedy that by having her watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier (excellent choice, Flarsky). If I didn’t know better, I’d say Rogen is gunning to direct or otherwise be involved in a Marvel project – and Green Hornet aside, I say let him. Give him something weird to develop, put it on Disney+ and let him go nuts.
3. Charlize Theron Can Do Literally Anything
After watching this movie, I’m convinced there is nothing Charlize Theron can’t do, no role she can’t slay. After roles like Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde, we’re conditioned to expect her to play strong, ass-kicking female characters. Charlotte Field is just as strong and kicks just as much ass, but she does it with policy proposals rather than fists. That, we’ve come to expect from Theron. What I didn’t expect was how flat-out funny she is. There is one scene in particular that I won’t ruin here, but it involves a disheveled Theron hunkered down with a phone and a cigarette and trying to negotiate a tense exchange. It’s funny as hell and as good as anything she’s ever done. We’re used to seeing funnymen take their careers to the next level with dramatic roles. We’ve seen action stars show shockingly great comedic chops. But rarely have we seen the dramatic female actor turn in a comedic performance that kills. But this is Theron and, again, there is nothing she can’t do with her wild talent. She alone is worth the price of admission.
Long Shot is in theaters on May 3rd. Get your tickets here!
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