It is clear there is a fantastic formula in the romantic comedy genre, with classics like Notting Hill (1999) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) leading the charge. Many films have leaned into the cliches these movies set, ending up with less than stellar films that come off as forced cash-grabs. One film that tries to defy all the cliches and expectations is the 2019 romantic comedy Long Shot.
We start things off with Fred Flarsky (played by Seth Rogen) as a strong-willed and free-spirited journalist who’s strong moral compass gets in the way of career. After his newspaper, The Brooklyn Advocate, is bought by big media conglomerate and Flarsky’s archnemesis, Wembley Media. He quits to spite the big company and is now unemployed. He is invited to a party by his best friend where he just so happens to meet his childhood crush and now Secretary of State, Charlotte Field (played by Charlize Theron). After reconnecting, Field offers Flarsky a job as her speech writer, since she is planning on running for president. Sparks begin to fly as the two bond more and more over her campaign, but outside forces threaten to tear them apart in order to support their own personal gains.
First off, Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen as the leading couple in a romantic comedy. Now that’s a sentence I never would have expected myself to say. These two are the definition of an odd couple, mostly since both actors are usually in these similar roles just in different movies. Charlize as the strong yet flawed woman protagonist, and Seth as basically himself in everything. They both bring their signature acting to this film and it really shouldn't work, but my God it does! Which makes it all the funnier when Rogen’s signature humor starts to rear its head.
Seth Rogen’s form of stoner comedy is not for everyone’s taste, but it has more or less aged like fine wine, with films like Superbad (2007) and This is the End (2013) leading the charge in Rogen’s sense of humor. Which surprisingly gives Theron some much needed levity in a role she would usually portray within a typical drama. She manages to play off of Rogen and everyone else perfectly, adding both some subtle laughs and turning in some gut-twisting moments as well. Arguably the best scene in the film is when Charlotte is high on molly and must negotiate for the safe return of an air force pilot, while not drawing any attention to the fact that she is high as a kite. With her phone conversation having us both biting our nails in anticipation and giggling our butts off it is a fantastic build up to the part where she celebrates the victory in a conference room with Fred and her Chief of Staff.
Despite all the funny and genuine moments in the film, it does feel like they got a little on-the-nose in terms of calling out controversial political and media figures. Rogen is no stranger to putting powerful and contentious political figures on blast, The Interview (2014) is a perfect example of that; it still feels as though the filmmakers could’ve been more subtle with their jabs at these figures even if I may agree with every single punch the writers throw, sort of how This is the End (2013) had commentary on celebrity culture as a whole but done subtler. They got Bob Odenkirk as a idiotic POTUS who seems to be a clear reference to President Trump and Park Wembley (played by Andy Serkis) which he and Wembley Media are clear shots at Roger Ailes and Fox News. I am not saying that I am right in terms of these characterizations or who they are based off of, but from watching the movie and seeing how Fox News works, it is hard not to see similarities.
Romantic comedies come and go with the times, and I dare say that Long Shot (2019) is one of if not the best rom com of the 2010s. It portrays a strong female protagonist in a position of power with a Rogen-type character who is more than comfortable in both his masculinity and femininity. Turning the power dynamic on its head really shows the changing times of social equity. The jokes land more often than they miss, even if they got slightly robust with their political shots. Overall, this is the film I would recommend if you enjoy both Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen movies, as it is the best of both worlds.