Long Shot review: Romance usurps bromance in this satirical comedy

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Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist who has a knack for getting into trouble. Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is a smart, sophisticated and accomplished politician, not to mention one of the most influential women in the world. So, when she impulsively hires him as her speechwriter when she embarks on her presidential campaign, sparks are guaranteed to fly…

We need to laugh at the moment – and I don’t mean a despairing, hollow, disbelief-filled laugh at the current global turmoil. Instead, I want the kind of laugh that projects wine through noses and leaves the sides of our bodies aching from a dose of straight up mirth. 

Thankfully, Long Shot is here to provide some welcome relief.

From the usually lad-centric House Rogen, this romcom sees Charlize Theron take on the role of Charlotte Field, secretary of state to a TV star president (sound familiar?). Seth Rogen, meanwhile, is Fred Flarsky, a passionately moral and idealistic journalist, whose articles include such gems as ‘Why the Two-Party System Can Suck A Dick’. 

When her boss decides he won’t be seeking a second term (if only), Charlotte decides to embark on a presidential bid of her own. Assisted by her loyal, shade throwing, aid, Maggie (June Diane Raphael of Grace & Frankie) and sweet, meek Tom (Master of None’s Ravi Patel), they search for a speechwriter to help punch up her message. 

Cue a meet-cute, and subsequent hiring of Fred – who, coincidentally, it turns out Charlotte used to babysit – and a pre-campaign tour that bonds the two together. 

There’s a lot to like, and importantly to laugh at, in Long Shot. The references to current political situations are terrifyingly spot on, and there are some spectacular characterisations and cameos. Notably, Alexander Skarsgård as the seemingly dreamy Canadian Prime Minister, who quickly demonstrates that, even if you do look like a Nordic God, attempting to eat an oyster with sexual overtones is nothing short of horrifying.  

Meanwhile, the film makes an effort to expose and skewer stereotypes. Charlotte is a skilled politician working 1000 times as hard as her male counterparts in order to be taken anywhere near as seriously (because, you know, the patriarchy). She projects a flawless image of sleek togetherness, fits in workouts during phone interviews, and impressively micro-naps while appearing to look contemplatively out of windows. On the other side, Fred is the kind of human who drinks tequila out of a plastic baggy, is never seen without his – admittedly great – windbreaker, gets obliterated with his best mate (O’Shea Jackson Jr), and quits his job on principle when a Fox News stand-in; captained by a right-wing billionaire (Andy Serkis as the lovechild of Rupert Murdoch and Steve Bannon’s nose) buys out his liberal newspaper.

There are a few bum notes as the plot hits formulaic lows, but it pulls through with a sharp script; co-written by former Girls writer and producer Dan Sterling, and Liz Hannah (who’s recently written the screen adaption for Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine), this rom-com’s treatment of female characters is far better than that seen in previous House of Rogen films. Knocked Up and 50/50 – Rogen and director Jonathan Levine’s previous collaboration – both portrayed women as nagging and occasionally spiteful spoilsports, dampening the fun of the “lads”. 

Most importantly of all? Long Shot is hilarious and joyful, and every single second that Theron and Rogen are on screen together sees them exude an easy and enjoyable chemistry that makes their romance believable (after all, sometimes a goddess wants to be laughed into bed). 

With that in mind, be sure to try and catch this thoroughly enjoyable satirical romcom when it hits cinemas on 3 May. You won’t regret it.

Image: Landmark Media

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Emily Gargan

Emily Gargan is one of Stylist’s resident film critics. She has a deep love for Pedro Almodóvar, Winona Ryder, felt-tip pens, and dogs named after food.