Long Shot – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Dan Sterling (screenplay by), Liz Hannah (screenplay by)
Stars: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is Secretary of State to a President of the United States who has decided not to run for a second term. He backs her bid for the Presidency. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a committed journalist who works for a small, struggling liberal newspaper. He resigns as it is about to be taken over by a voracious newspaper magnate Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis).
He is in a low place and he is brought by his more successful friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jnr) to a fundraising event for Charlotte. Fred had a crush on Charlotte from the years long ago when she acted as his babysitter. They now meet again and he becomes part of her speech writing crew. Charlotte has inevitably a public relations guru Maggie Millikin (June Diane Raphael) who with her side-kick Tom (Ravi Patel) are trying to propel Charlotte into the White House.
This film is billed as a romantic comedy. Flarsky has very few of the characteristics that you might consider useful for a close adviser to a presidential candidate and a great many attributes which for most candidates would be considered a disadvantage. However, the 2016 US Presidential campaign upended previous norms so that all possibilities, both likely and unlikely, now can become part of a campaign story. Charlotte’s campaign generates a great deal of the unlikely. On the more serious side it shows the added difficulties which a female candidate has to surmount when she runs for high office.
Rogen and Theron work convincingly as the unlikely couple who become entangled with each other. While Rogen’s world is that of the comic for Theron the genre is less familiar but they complement each other well. Raphael is impressively managerial as Millikin which is needed given the presence of Flarsky on Charlotte’s team which highlights the need for an ability to think and act both creatively and quickly. The entire razzmatazz of it all generates a great deal of unlikely, comic situations and gags. However, the problem for the story is that the bizarre nature of the 2016 Presidential campaign is difficult to forget.
In short, this is a well-made romp with fine performances but somehow the unreality of the 2016 United States Presidential campaign more than lingers in the brain. Its bizarreness remains unsurpassed.