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‘Long Shot’ is raunchy, romantic love letter

May 11, 2019

This may seem like a slight, but I have to admit, I never thought Seth Rogen would be the defining voice of the modern romantic comedy.

Dating back to 2005’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” where he served as a producer, Rogen has made a career out of sweet, salty and subversive rom-coms in one way or another. From “Knocked Up” to “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (hell, I would even throw in the ribald animated “Sausage Party” as well), Rogen has been the voice and face of the schlubby everyman who longs for true love.  

We can now add “Long Shot” to his growing list of raunchy, romantic cinematic love letters. And, like the best of his comedies, it can easily be brushed off as a slew of sex jokes stitched together (which it is), but it can also resonate upon deeper analysis of its take on politics in the boardroom as well as the bedroom.

Rogen plays Fred Flarsky (a more nerdy name would be hard to come by), an ethically upright investigative journalist whose latest attempt to infiltrate a neo-Nazi group ends with half a swastika tattoo and a publication that has been purchased by a sleazy media mogul (played by Andy Serkis, once again unrecognizable under a ton of latex).

Now out of a job, Fred seeks solace in his best friend (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), who takes him to a ritzy fundraiser thrown by Secretary of State Charlotte Field (played by Charlize Theron). At the event, Fred confesses to his buddy that she was once his babysitter and secret childhood crush, a situation that ended tragically for him and comically for others.

Unbeknownst to all, the idiotic former-TV-star-turned-president (played by Bob Odenkirk) has decided to leave politics and head back into entertainment, promising to give Charlotte his endorsement. But focus groups have not been kind to her, stating she comes across as a humorless bookworm.

Her campaign advisors suggest hiring a speechwriter to punch up her image, a job she offers to Fred, since he’s eminently more relatable, and it does not take long for the simmering relationship between the two to start to reach a boil again.

If you are entering “Long Shot” for incisive, topical political commentary, you may wish to look elsewhere. While it does offer some pointed jabs at the discrepancies between male and female candidates in politics, it keeps its opinions at arm’s length. For a more insightful look at that, check out Netflix’s just-released documentary “Knock Down the House.”

Instead, “Long Shot” aims for the funny bone and hits it more often than not. Highlights range from the off-center celebrity cameos to an incredibly amusing sequence when Charlotte is forced to make some rather important international negotiations after ingesting a few hits of ecstasy.

Rogen is essentially the same wisecracking, doughy slacker he’s played in almost every other similar role in his career, but it’s Theron who once again shows how adept she is at straightforward comedy (as demonstrated on her role in Season 3 of “Arrested Development”).

“Long Shot” does not rewrite the rules of the rom-com, but it does show that the earlier reports of the genre’s demise are far from accurate.

  • Rob is the head of the English and Communications Department at Delaware Technical Community College, where he teaches film. He is also one of the founders of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society and is lead entertainment writer for Influx Magazine. Email him at filmrob@gmail.com.