Long Shot(Amazon Prime Video)
Starring Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Rating: *** ½ (three and a half stars)
This enjoyable but uneven rom-com, no pushover for sure, serves up the most delectable feminist fantasy ever: a female American president! How does that grab you? Especially since she is played by the stunning Charlize Theron.
I have to confess all my critical faculties melt down to the floor when Ms Theron is on the screen. Every time she is in a frame I simply stare at her eventhough others may also have something important to do or say.But who cares? Once Mr Theron is around, everything and everyone seizes to matter.
I really don’t know what this film’s architects hoped to achieve by casting Seth Rogen opposite Ms Theron. Seth, if you came in late, thinks of himself as a comic genius. His entire attitude smacks of an arrogant self-regard. In Long Shot he plays Fred Flarsky, a specially obnoxious character, an overbearing investigative journalist who probably thinks the sun rises and sets in his posterior region.
I know this guy. He is the kind who, when introduced to me, would sneer at my entertainment and cinema credentials. I hate him. And the fact that Charlize Theron can actually love him makes it worse.
Having overcome these existential obstacles I found myself quite enjoying the film’s irreverent banter on politics and sex, and by ‘sex’ I don’t mean just the thing in the bedroom, but also that whole gender equation issue, for example the way two tv male anchors heckle their female colleague on a live show, would have you in splits, though those looking for political correctness would be pissed off.
Never mind them! Long Shot is not a rom-com devoted to the cause of propriety. In fact some of the film’s sexual suggestions are explicit and borderline crass.There is a viral video of Fred that Charlotte’s enemies find, where he is seen doing what 13-year olds do when their parents are not home. It is disgusting to see a grown man behaving like a groan man, if you know what I mean. But it’s also fun on a subliminal level to see two mature professional levels behave like pubescent teenagers.
At one point Charlotte ,the Secretary of State and future president of America tells Fred exactly what she wants him to do with her in bed. Fred’s shocked expression is ours too. The film tells us to unwind, loosen up and enjoy the potshots being taken at the holy cows of politics.And it works, until the clunky writing kicks in. There is a whole chunk of political violence in Manila with Charlotte and Fred dodging bullets that is so awfully scripted I wondered if the writers had gone on a flash strike. At some point after the couple have a fight, the script doesn’t know what to do , so it makes the couple stare at the sky.
But there so much in the storytelling that is robust and riveting. The performances are wickedly enjoyable. Watch out for Andy Serkis as a sleazy media tycoon m Alaxandar Skarsgard as the dumbed-down Canadian prime minister and O’Shea Jackson Jr as the journalist-hero’s best friend. They are a riot.
An Indian actor Ravi Patel has quite a substantial role as Ms Theron’s core staff member. He is cast in a colour-blind role as ‘Tom’. Fine. If we are looking at a world freed of cultural specificity then why not go the distance to bridge gender gaps as well?Why is it so important to have a female American President?