Long Shot (2019)

Jonathan Levine directs Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron and O’Shea Jackson Jr. in this romantic comedy where an undisciplined journalist falls for the woman most likely to be the first female President of the USA.

An hour into Long Shot and it had completely won me over. The hooking up of idealistic but messy loser Rogen with the immaculate and successful Theron was tee’d up convincingly. The laughs came thick and fast – hitting highs of slapstick and cattiness that never punctured the bubble of the (quite a sweet) odd couple pairing. An hour in, I would have said we had one of the funniest and engrossing rom-coms since Norah Ephron’s heyday. It even had a built-in third act dilemma. Even if we and Theron can be won over by Rogen’s bumbling, loudmouth pothead, that doesn’t mean there’s any reality where he would play with the media and the voting public. And that’s where the movie goes off the rails. In the final act we get two sequences that feel like the very worst of that Judd Apatow fratpack formula. What if the the Secretary of State had to negotiate a life and death crisis high on MDMA? What if something really vulgar about Rogen was leaked to the press? The excessive, crudeness of both set pieces feel at least 10 years off base and I’m not sure any real laughs are hit during these hurdles. They feel like spitballed ideas that could have been lost in an earlier draft or in the edit. Why? They rob the film of its hardfought for warmness, scupper the movie logic verisimilitude. Long Shot still reaches a satisfying ending but you don’t trust it quite so much. It sacrifices that rare seductive spark between Rogen and Theron for potential cheap laughs. There’s still a really witty romance here for 80% of the running time, one well worth seeing. Long Shot is one of the better entertainments of the year and the finest recent example of the form. But its missteps glaringly hold it back from instant classic status. At its rawest parts it evokes the feeling all men feel about their better halves… we are unbelievably lucky to have them as part of our lives and can’t believe they see our better qualities through our shambolic, childish lifestyles.

8

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