Can there possible be such a thing as a political rom-com that appeals to everyone no matter what side of the fence they reside? The combination sounds impossible, but “Long Shot,” starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan, does it with impeccable skill. Charlotte (Theron) is a high power political figure as the Secretary of State who, by chance, bumps into a rebellious journalist who she used to babysit for. The unlikely pair team up in a run for the upcoming presidential election, creating hilarious and unexpectedly charming situations.
Charlotte has always been a go-getter. With her single-minded drive and determination, she works under President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) who used to play a president on television. Charlotte’s frustration is evident, but she plays by the books, her intelligence always keeping her one step ahead. Fred Flarsky (Rogan) is unkempt, volatile, but passionate about exposing the truth and never compromising his integrity, but as his “independent” newspaper is bought by a big-money tycoon, he quits…on principle, but those principles don’t pay the bills. Seeking solace in his best friend whose beyond successful, Lance, (O’Shea Jackson), the two hit the high profile party scene, and Fred makes a memorable if not awkward impression on Charlotte.
Fred becomes Charlotte’s speech writer and the two get reacquainted, both helping one another to become a better person, but as the two could not be more opposite, Charlotte becomes an easy target for manipulation, pushing the boundaries of her unyielding moral compass. Incorporating all the snares of public life that we are constantly exposed to such as social media platforms, videos, and good old fashioned blackmailing, the story becomes a lesson in what’s important. It’s an unlikely pairing and a fast-paced, crazy story that is completely consuming (and even a little believable) as they expound upon the realities of the world which is always watching.
Rogan, unkempt and dressed from a by-gone era, is certainly type cast in this role, but that’s a good thing as he hones his comedic skills and elevates his game with the “Hollywood royalty” as Jackson recently described Theron in a recent interview. As polar opposite as he seems to Theron, the two have chemistry and create a magic that captures your heart as you root for the two to succeed…however that may be defined.
Theron always plays a tough, smart woman who is not to be underestimated and now we can add comic wonder to her list of skills. Her timing is impeccable as she plays off of Rogan and her subtle gestures and expressions land a lot of laughs effortlessly. We also see her push the boundaries we have set for her as she reaches outside of the box to create an unpredictable character.
The entire cast is stellar, supporting the lead actors with deft skill. June Diane Raphael plays Maggie, the uptight, judgmental political assistant and advisor to Charlotte who never overplays her part, but slips right into the role easily. Jackson knocks his performance out to the park to create one of the most memorable supporting roles this year. Co-writers Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah give him an opportunity to shine and deliver a shocking twist that makes you not only laugh out loud, but also actually think about your own preconceived notions.
While this film, on the surface, is merely a comedy, there’s so much more to it. The characters are all well-developed with our main characters are richly layered in a way that we connect with them. Given the political environment that consumes us today, the film reels us back and helps to ground our thoughts making it a more insightful film than expected.
“Long shot” is a surprise on every level. It’s a rom-com with subtle political overtones that harmoniously coordinate to give us a film that just might rival “When Harry Met Sally” for a new decade of viewers.