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Review: ‘Long Shot’ is adorable and fun enough to carry a well-trodden premise

The film is a great balance of vulgarity and sincerity

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Long Shot

Long Shot” is an exceptionally dumb movie. Fortunately, it’s also really cute and packed with enough charisma, star power, and convincing chemistry to make it a highly enjoyable watch if you can suspend your disbelief about the absurdity of the world it operates in.

When journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is down on his luck, he runs into his first crush from his teenage years, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). Field is the secretary of state, preparing to make a bid for the presidency. In need of a speechwriter to punch up her humor for the polls, she hires Flarsky for the job, and the two become closer along the way.

The archetypes aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel. Field is a career-oriented woman who doesn’t make time for her personal life. Flarsky falls down a lot, talks loudly, and is operating way out of his league. We’ve seen it before.

That said, the film does portray a pretty entertaining though lukewarm satirization of the current political climate. The in-office President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) is a former television star who made a name for himself by (you guessed it) playing a fictional president. The premise allows for some political commentary on our current political climate within the film, but none of it is particularly sharp. The film isn’t afraid to say that we should care about the environment and that Nazis are bad, but outside of that, it doesn’t have anything particularly risky to say. It’s fair to say that the premise is too nonsensical to offer anything above situational comedy.

But that’s OK, because the film largely succeeds on the central performances of Theron and Rogen who have a great chemistry with each other that often carries the film higher than the writing would otherwise. Theron is particularly hilarious in the film. She doesn’t feel out of place in her role, possessing the screen presence necessary to portray a convincing secretary of state, but with a down-to-earth quality that makes her amazingly relatable. Rogen is, unsurprisingly, playing a neurotic stoner with a heart of gold, but he does so effectively and convincingly, and he brings all of his well-tested comedic chops to the table.

Jonathan Levine, who notably directed some pretty entertaining films in “50/50,” “Warm Bodies,” and “The Night Before,” presents a pretty straightforward raunchy comedy. The beginning drags a little bit before Theron and Rogen get to play off one another, but it picks up pretty early and moves at a good pace. The film effectively uses popular music in a number of instances, including a hefty cameo from Boyz II Men.

The film is also packed with some entertaining and well-placed pop culture references, though it does have a few duds. The supporting cast performs admirably with O’Shea Jackson Jr. being a particular standout as Flarsky’s supportive friend Lance.

Ultimately, “Long Shot” is an incredibly fun movie with some entertaining laughs, raunchy jokes, sex, drugs, romance, and fun. It exists within an unbelievable depiction of the political landscape, too toothless to be truly satirical. But the performances of the cast and the strengths of Theron and Rogen make a romance that might seem ridiculous feel real enough to carry what is ultimately a good romantic comedy.

The verdict: “Long Shot” overcomes its soft political commentary with a truly captivating romance and fun comedy, making it worth the price of admission, even for just the star power alone.

Reach writer Ryan Phelan at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @D_R_Phelan

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