‘Long Shot’ takes another stab at a politically set romcom in the vein of ‘The American President’ and ‘Dave,’ two films from the early 90s that managed to relate the complications of falling in love with that of the ideals and values one must uphold to run a country. There aren’t many films that attempt this correlation — none that I can remember — because the age of the internet and shows like ‘House of Cards’ has shown us that involving yourself in politics is all about compromise — that no matter how good your intentions may be, the system will always eat you up.
That’s what is so magical about ‘Long Shot.’ It is as unabashedly a comedy as it is a romantic film that you instantly believe in Charlize Theron’s character of a US Secretary of State, who plans on making a go for US President. As Charlotte Field, Theron is extraordinary. She is good at everything that she does and she truly has good intentions, motivated to save the world and make it a better place.
‘Long Shot’ rather immediately takes this extraordinary, idealistic character — a person we actually would want in a presidential position — and surrounds her with fictitious political leaders who are all examples of horrible leadership: like an American president, who is more concerned of his legacy as a television actor, or a Canadian president, who is media savvy and is more concerned of his optics than anything else.
What I like most about ‘Long Shot’ is how it humanizes a character like Charlotte Field and shows the amount of work it takes for her to be as competent as she can be, soldiering through the pressure of doing her job as Secretary of State but also fighting against the added pressure of being a powerful woman in the spotlight. The film is unafraid to take head-on society’s standards of people in power with regards to their gender and Charlize Theron manages to show us what it really looks like to have an impeccable while suffering in the inside.
In every shot, Theron projects intelligence, competence, strength, and charisma, but she’s also capable of showing vulnerability and then showing off her range by getting into embarrassing situations when she thinks no one is looking.
And political messages aside, ‘Long Shot’ is also about the romance that blooms between herself and the speech writer she hires impulsively, Seth Rogen’s Fred Flarsky, a journalist whose integrity has gotten him into trouble quite a number of times. He also happens to have a special connection to Charlotte Field, having known her when they were teens. The romance that blooms between them is not some love-at-first-sight thing. The film inserts these intimate moments of two people coming together; two people who seem completely wrong for each other, according to the optics in a political perspective.
I am not a fan of Seth Rogen but in ‘Long Shot,’ he plays off wonderfully with Charlize Theron and there is such powerful chemistry between the two. Director Jonathan Levine fills the narrative with these exotic locations where the political commentaries, satire, and comedy find right breeding ground but he strips all of it away when he brings us to the scenes where Fred and Charlotte come together. The matching of nostalgia, idealism, and shared values becomes the fulcrum for this love story to bloom.
There are the usual Seth Rogen type of jokes that I find low brow and isn’t my cup of tea, but it’s balanced out by some really good character humor. The only real misstep of the movie is a scene in Manila that is obviously not shot in Manila (it happens only in a hotel) and its depiction of a “country that does know it is in the brink of a civil war” is tone deaf and feels un-researched. Even in the genre of comedy does this joke (and the situation that it escalates into) doesn’t land well because it’s not grounded by any sense of truth. For this one scene, I felt offended for its lack of authenticity, but it quickly passes and the film manages to redeem itself as it progresses further.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Long Shot.’ It’s a political-charged romcom that is unafraid to throw punches at today’s political climate while still giving us a sweet and lovely romantic story performed magnificently by Theron and Rogen. If anything, ‘Long Shot’ is a showcase for Theron’s massive range as an actress. The film utilizes her public persona of being an image of perfection but gives her so much to do to showcase not just her vulnerability, but also her excellent comedic timing.