Jonathan Levine originally came out with some indie gems in the early part of the decade such as The Wackness and 50/50 but as his career trajectory became more prolific it ventured into the soporific, with cringeworthy outputs such as The Night Before, Snatched and now romantic comedy Long Shot. There is much speculation that the rom com is dying, although last years success of Crazy Rich Asians, making over 170 million at the box office, would signal otherwise. However more often than not, a lot of mid-range budget rom coms of late as Isn't It It Romantic (released theatrically only in the US) and Set it Up are dropped straight to VOD platforms. You can see why rom coms are flagging, there is a certain dumbing down, spoon-fed story plot which follows a sour tasting regurgitated formula. Long Shot was awarded a theatrical release, perhaps owing to Charlize Theron’s star power.
Theron is Secretary of State/ presidential candidate Charlotte Field and her co-star is Seth Rogen as a down and out-of-work political journalist Fred Flarsky. The opposing career trajectories supposedly attempts to turn the stereotypical rom com gender narrative on its head. Having been childhood acquaintances, Field babysat for Fred, they bump into each other once again as adults when Flarsky gate-crashes a high-end fund-raising event. When Field offers Flarsky a job opportunity to be her speech writer, an unlikely affair ensues, which obviously leads to a burgeoning love relationship but of course not before we are led down a path of misunderstandings, tiffs and mishaps, which admittedly on occasion are genuinely funny. Along with a plethora of colourful secondary characters and various haphazard subplots provided mostly by the fodder of Field’s high-profile, high-flying political career.
Theron along with Rogen are the film’s major if only asset, both delivering in a pleasant enough if overall mediocre trope . Their chemistry allows for their on-screen affections to feel sincere and they are both experienced and gifted enough to hit the mark on all the screwball moments. In one ludicrous scene Field under the influence, high on MDMA after an evening of clubbing, is summoned to an urgent call where in her inebriated state she is having to diffuse some potential diplomatic warfare, it could have gone so wrong, but Theron effortlessly pulls it off.
There is a cynical after taste to Long Shot, despite its attempts (if lacklustre) to challenge gender stereotyping, instead has the reverse effect of augmenting them futher. Several questionable narrative points which ring alarm bells. The notion that Field has sacrificed all the ‘fun’ her life (because she is single) for her career or the way in which Flarsky is roped in to help through her speeches to make her more likeable and therefore electable. In any case, its a long shot that this will break the box office with Avengers: Endgame out at the same time, but I'm sure soon enough it will be Netflix or even sooner on some in-flight entertainment system.
Long Shot is out now in cinemas.
Words by Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.
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