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3 (out of 4)
Director Jonathan Levine has grappled with horror and hilarity from the Texas Chainsaw pastiche of All the Girls Love Mandy Lane to his exceptionally honest cancer comedy 50/50 to the rom-zom-com middle ground of Warm Bodies. Long Shot is in many ways just another Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg product – much like Levine’s last film The Night Before – but damn if Rogen hasn't maintained his acclaimed affability.
The sole smudge of Long Shot, an otherwise thematically frank and well-tapered romantic comedy, is the idea that the ceaselessly stoned Jewish schlep (yet again Rogen's 'character' is barely removed from his real persona) would ever obtain the love of someone as untouchable as Charlize Theron, let alone her as Secretary of State and future president. Rogen has been paired with fine ladies over the years (Katherine Heigl, Elizabeth Banks, Rose Byrne, Amber Heard for Christ's sake) but the pairing in Long Shot sails past even Adam Sandler-tier male fantasies.
With that primary nitpick out of the way, it's safe to say Long Shot is frequently hilarious, appropriately cast (Randall Park and O'Shea Jackson Jr. continue to and should pop up in everything) and discerning enough given the usual quota of sex jokes and pop culture references. The film actually has its own take on today's politics, namely the relationship between the media, the public and the powers that be. And regarding the premise – the early stages of a successful female presidential run – this is not a feminist film; It's Her Turn is not the big ol' message. The politics lean decidedly left – Bob Odenkirk as the current president, former TV star and self-obsessed dummy should spell this out obviously enough – but Long Shot's relatively complex view of public discourse and political candor is passable for mainstream amusement.
Apart from the joint topics on journalism and government, a Seth Rogen movie means we’re getting self-deprecating humor, drug sequences, offhand ad-libbing and a fairy tale ending. All of this is true of Long Shot but, like the best Rogen vehicles, the laughs come very natural and relaxation becomes second nature. The sequence wherein Theron’s Charlotte Field negotiates a hostage situation whilst on MDMA is a bit of brilliance. A forced namedrop here and there can’t spoil Long Shot's fun – Levine reminds us of all the shameless comfort you can glean from a romantic comedy worth suspending reality for.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
The Current War,
"So what've you been up to?"
"Escaping mostly... and I escape real good."
- Inherent Vice