Image Credit: Lionsgate
A lively and well-paced rom-com, Long Shot combines romance with scathing social commentaries through the story of an unlikely relationship between out-of-work journalist, Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogan), and strong-headed Secretary of State, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). Shortly after the newspaper Fred works for gets bought up forcing him to quit on moral grounds, he runs into Charlotte at a party, who remembers him from their childhood when she babysat him. She subsequently hires him to liven up her speeches as she runs in the presidential elections, and as they spend more and more time together, they fall in love.
Granted, many aspects of the film are rather implausible; it opens with an infiltration of a Nazi gathering turned tattoo party, and is punctuated by a series of brutal but apparently un-injuring pratfalls for Fred, and of course, it presents us with a very unlikely romance. But the film does not pretend to be plausible, overtly acknowledging that the whole thing is a bit of a ‘long shot’, and asks us to bare with it – and you will be only too glad to.
The outlandishness is key to the film’s humour, which is, at times, side-splitting. The script interweaves some subtle laughs with sustained comedic scenes, and nearly always hits the mark. However, some of the humour does tend to rely on shock reactions and a childish ‘sex is funny’ mentality, as one particularly distasteful masturbation joke does. But these cruder gags are in the minority, with most of the film provoking a lot of genuine laughs.
The performances are excellent, with very versatile acting from the lead performers, Rogan and Theron, exemplified in the MDMA-fuelled hostage negotiation scene, and the scene where they come under attack in a hotel. In moments like these, the plot seems to deviate slightly from rom-com into other genres, and this is facilitated by the flexible performers. These scenes could have seemed superfluous, but they do not come across this way, and instead help to keep the film well-paced, as well as maintain an interesting plot-line that deviates from the typical rom-com.
The supporting characters also give great performances. Of particular note was selfish billionaire, Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis), who does an excellent job of evoking utter disgust from the audience as the representative of nearly everything that the film critiques.
Politics are more than just a backdrop in this film, with a wide range of social issues being brought into needle-sharp focus. Long Shot most obviously interrogates gender inequality, with attention to slut-shaming, toxic masculinity, and the glaring sexism towards women in the work environment. A particularly effective use of editing is the frequent cutting to a scene where one female and two male chat show host converse. The men are preposterously sexist, and the woman, wedged between them in the same way these clips are wedged between the other scenes of the film, laughs along passively for the majority of the film. These cuts are jarring in a good way, allowing the issue of sexism to stick out of the narrative, rather than settle into the film’s background.
Long Shot also addresses racism, anti-Semitism, corporate immorality, idiotic leaders and the environmental crisis. These contemporary issues are addressed forcefully, with scathing satirical comments on the greed standing in the way of environmental recuperation, and sexual double standards, for example. In this way, heated social scrutiny is juxtaposed with a genuine, sweet romance. The social issues are not overshadowed by the film’s romance, however; they are an intrinsic part of it. The ups and downs of Charlotte and Fred’s relationship are directly linked to their adherence to and divergence from their own moral codes, and their admiration for or disapproval of the way they both address or fail to address the world’s problems at various points. This allows the film to use the romantic comedy structure to directly interrogate the state of America.
As such, Long Shot offers a social commentary that is hardly subtle, and in fact the centrality of so many contemporary problems to the film are one of its greatest strengths. It not only leaves you laughing, but it leaves you thinking too.