An unemployed journalist and a successful politician cross paths, and what could be an interesting story is instead another poorly written romantic comedy in “Long Shot.”
Directed by Jonathan Levine (“50/50,” “Snatched”), the movie follows Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) — a miserable excuse of a journalist who doesn’t know fundamental reporting skills.
The movie opens at a white nationalist meeting which Fred is covering. In the space, he has a clear and awkward presence. Just as he gains the group’s trust, members discover his true identity online and realize he’s been secretly recording them the whole time.
The failed mission leaves Fred with half of a Swastika tattoo and some bruises. He returns to work the next day only to find out the publication he works for was bought by a giant media conglomerate.
Fred quits his job, and his best friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) takes him out to lift his spirits. At the swanky party headlined by Boyz II Men, Fred has a life-changing chance encounter.
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the Secretary of State, but she has greater aspirations: President of the United States. She runs on an environmental platform and has aspirations akin to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. Along the way, she deals with the sexist setbacks and stereotypes that come with being a female politician, such as being analyzed on her appearance and likability.
The two meet at the party — however, it isn’t their first introduction.
Charlotte babysat Fred when he was 13 and she was 16. Prepubescent Fred was mesmerized by Charlotte, who was ambitious even as a teenager. An inappropriate advance from Fred left things awkward, but Charlotte didn’t seem to remember that incident 25 years later.
Charlotte needs a speechwriter, and Fred is unemployed. Naturally, the two pair up, and anyone who’s seen a romantic comedy knows the rest as the movie follows an overused plotline.
“Long Shot” has all the classic tropes: a better-looking competing love interest (Alexander Skarsgard), someone bent on keeping the two apart (June Diane Raphael), one-liners which fall flat, unrealistic sex scenes and a predictable ending. To make the movie a little more exciting, there’s an explosion at one point, too.
Journalists are often depicted as lonely workaholics in films, and “Long Shot” is no different. Nothing screams “lonely journalist” like Rogen drinking tequila out of a Ziploc bag.
Rogen’s depiction of a reporter is absurd, and his character’s values aren’t on par with most journalists. Although he has good intentions, he doesn’t have any journalistic integrity.
“Long Shot” is supposed to be comedic, so it’s not surprising to see Fred as a sloppy, goofy journalist. However, some viewers might find it appalling that Fred doesn’t understand the basic idea of hearing both sides — he acts absolutely betrayed to find out his best friend is a Republican.
Charlotte’s character also has lots of potential which is never reached. Audiences don’t get to see her career development between her budding political interests in high school and her current presidential campaign. Theron portrays her as more confident and level-headed than Fred, but she fails to stand apart from other rom-com characters.
Despite her aspirations and successful career, the movie puts Charlotte into an overused character arc: she isn’t fully fulfilled until she falls in love with someone.
Anyone interested in “Long Shot” should just watch its trailer — it hits most of the plot points. The two-hour long movie, rated R, will be in theaters nationwide May 3.