“Long Shot” is a funny look at a couple of people with almost nothing in common except a long-ago shared high school past. The romantic comedy has an R-rated bite to it, and some political overtones that make some broad commentary on current events. The two leads are experienced actors who make an unlikely romantic attraction look realistic. The movie is bolstered by the fact that it has some secondary characters who are played by excellent people and are well cast in those roles. The movie might have an R-rated exterior, but it has some nice universal notions of true love being blind.
Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a determined, if somewhat disheveled, investigative journalist. He just found out that his weekly newspaper is being taken over by a huge media conglomerate run by a right-wing billionaire bigot. He quits and sees his long-time friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). Lance has done quite well for himself, and he takes Fred out to a major party. It is an environmental fundraiser, and it is also attended by the current Secretary of State. She is Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is a major Washington power player. She is also considering running for President. Her long-time aide Maggie (June Diane Raphael) is keeping Field’s public persona clean and bright. Fred and Charlotte have a history back in high school. She used to babysit for Fred a few times, and he was hot for her back then.
Charlotte is now still as beautiful and is also very powerful. She hears from the President (Bob Odenkirk) that he will not be running for another term. He wants to break into movies instead. So now he will endorse Charlotte as a candidate. When she meets Fred at the Washington party, she remembers that he was a sweet teenager. Fred has just quit from the job, because he does not want to support the new owner. He is looking for a new position, and she is looking for a speechwriter. That could be a match made in Heaven, or at least the smoky backrooms of the Washington establishment. He is a passionate idealist, who does not wince from dropping a few F-bombs in his articles. She is poised and practiced pragmatist and used to the idea of abandoning ideals to get the deal done. Not a chance these two might have issues with the other, right?
As she becomes a Candidate for the top job, Charlotte is pleased with the high level of energy that Fred can bring to her campaign. Her aide Maggie is not a fan, but she is biting her lip until a time that Fred’s wild personality will blow up. That point might bring Charlotte’s chances to a screeching halt, because even now – she is considered a ‘Long Shot’. Fred becomes a key part of her entourage, travelling with Charlotte to many world capitals. She and Fred are becoming very close and are become lovers. Fred lets his friend Lance know what is going on, and he encourages Fred to be true to his principles. But the real world makes Charlotte compromise many of her campaign goals. Fred is taken aback, and he sees that life in a political realm might not be to his liking.
This movie is a hard-R rating, but mostly for language. The relationship between the two main characters is not exactly believable. But Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron are very natural in these roles, and they can pull it off. The actors do a great job with some less than stellar material. There quite a few very funny lines, and the Fred Flarsky character is made out to be the biggest boob on the face of the Earth. But with Rogan’s sad puppy face, you just must love him. Also, there are some fine performances with the side characters, especially O’Shea Jackson Jr. and June Diane Raphael. These two more than carry their weight in the movie, and they have some good moments. The overall political attitude swings a little to the left, and the main policy initiative for Charlotte Field is to save the Environment. Never seen that before on the screen, huh?
“Long Shot” gets the most juice out it’s lead actors by getting them into the most natural situations. It is less than perfect when they are forced into a ‘fish out of water’ scene, such as Fred Flarsky at an International State Dinner event. There are few times when it seems to cross the line over good taste, but for the most part is fun watch. The ending veers over the line and it goes on a little too long. But if you like your character-driven comedy with a romantic flavor and a political edge, this beats any other movie by a “Long Shot”.