Dateworthy? “Long Shot”
Is “Long Shot” worth a weekend date night? Yes . . . but there’s some things you should know first.
The movie is a terrific romantic comedy. It’s one of the best in many years and possibly an instant classic. The film stars Seth Rogen as a schlubby journalist who bumps into Charlize Theron as the childhood babysitter he used to have a crush on. But now she’s the US Secretary of State and running for president. She hires him as a speechwriter the two slowly fall in love. But will world crises and her campaign staff keep them apart?
The movie is funny, deep, touching and highly romantic. But it also has a fair amount of foul language and a couple of gross-out sex-related gags, so be warned. Those gags are quick though. Plus, an impressive defense of Christians by one key character mitigates them greatly.
Finding true love is hard enough for regular folks like us. But imagine how difficult it would be to build a quality relationship if the whole world watched your every move?
That’s the sad dilemma faced by Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). She’s the US Secretary of State. The president (Bob Odenkirk) assured that she will receive his endorsement to succeed him in the highest office in the land.
The world’s cameras are fixed on her every move. With constant travel to boot, Charlotte has been unable to find a lasting relationship. She’s likely to face the presidency’s stresses alone.
But one night, she runs into a familiar face at a major fundraising gala, that of Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen).
A childhood crush revived creates an awkward but improving partnership
Fred had an embarrassing crush on Charlotte back when she was his babysitter. Their friendship ended in a way that was highly embarrassing for him. But now, years later, he makes an impression on her. They have a dramatic confrontation at the party with a Rupert Murdoch-style media baron he believes is destroying journalism and, by extension, America.
Charlotte hires Fred to be her new speechwriter when her team tells her that her one weak spot in polls is her sense of humor. They travel the globe on a 20-country tour to line up support behind Charlotte’s ambitious environmental agenda. The unlikely pair get to know each other in a way she hasn’t been able to in years, and she falls for him.
But with the world judging her every move, what will they think of her taking up with a nerdy, neurotic Jewish guy with a propensity for profane rants in print and in real life?
Can they find a way to make it all work out?
“Long Shot” meets a deeper than expected script rife with moral dilemmas
It might seem that this would be a fairly classic dilemma in the guise of a fresh setting. If that was the case, it would already be a bonus in these ever-predictable movie times. But “Long Shot” has one surprise after another in its sharp script. These include a dangerous attack and a wild night where Fred introduces Charlotte to the drug Ecstasy only to find her high as a kite when a major crisis erupts.
Better yet, “Long Shot” deals with real ethical dilemmas that are intriguing and relatable. It asks of both Fred’s journalist and Charlotte’s world leader what they’re willing to compromise. Each character has to pick the red lines they won’t cross. Both find themselves questioning the standards society offers.
Both Rogen and Theron give fantastic performances in the film. Theron is funnier than she’s ever been before. She shows a real feminine warmth and allure that she is often lacking in her frequent killer roles in movies like “Mad Max: Glory Road” and “Atomic Blonde.” Rogen, meanwhile, steps up to the challenge of being a romantic leading man while keeping his scruffy charm intact.
A call for Americans to respect and accept each other’s beliefs
One big scene-stealer is O’Shea Jackson, Jr. He’s the son of Ice Cube who made his film acting debut playing his famous rapper father in “Straight Outta Compton.” He’s also displayed an impressive comic grace in indie films like “Ingrid Goes West.” As Fred’s best friend, he’s a source of joyfully comic encouragement in his friend’s improbable romantic travails. But in a particularly impressive scene he makes a strong stand for being a Christian even as Fred mocks him for it.
In other words, this is a seemingly simple film that actually has a lot to say about life and the world we live in today. It unfortunately has one gross-out scene akin to the “hair gel” scene in the classic comedy “There’s Something About Mary.” But it’s relatively quick. There are a couple of sexually charged dialogue and a fair amount of swearing.
None of it is anything that adults haven’t heard before, though. The film’s good-hearted nature and especially Jackson’s positive portrayal of a Christian (and a conservative!) mitigates the couple of rough spots. “Long Shot” is a sure bet for a great date night and one of the year’s best films.
Carl Kozlowski is a Catholic comedian, film reviewer, and journalist who is also the founder and co-owner of the podcast station www.radiotitans.com in Los Angeles. He reviews movies for the Catholic News Agency as well as the Christian site Movieguide.org, but has also worked with secular outlets including the Pasadena Weekly, Chicago Tribune and Esquire. He has also produced and hosted comedy shows for the LA Catholic Archdiocese's charities and performed at some of the nation's top clubs and with top comics including Dane Cook and Dave Chappelle. He strives to find the way to work with both Christian and secular audiences in all his career paths.