Long Shot (2018)
We all know that trailers sell tickets, even when they misrepresent the product. These days viewers must raise their tolerance levels when it comes to creative advertising. The hybrid rom-com political satire Long Shot (2019)is an example of just how far film marketers are prepared to go to stop you finding out what a film is really like.
The basic plotline brings together a knockabout high-principle journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogan) and high-glamour US Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). We meet Fred as he risks his life infiltrating an extreme right-wing fascist group to expose some ugly truths. Meanwhile, Charlotte schemes to persuade moronic US President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) to nominate her for President when he leaves for a career in movies. From here it’s a series of gags and comedy sketches that start with a hint of intelligent humour and political satire, but quickly degenerate into narrative implausibility, slapstick, and gross-out puerility.
A kinder assessment might acknowledge the film’s intention to mirror aspects of the Trump Presidency, particularly the much-lamented downward spiral in the moral baseline of today’s White House. Sketches of a narcissist president worrying about his non-telegenic smile and his future career in movies are all sledgehammers that could have benefited from a more nuanced directorial touch. As Charlotte’s prospects for the presidency gather momentum, the film takes a dive when a hidden camera records a masturbation scene that is a low point for smut And if that’s not low enough, after the tape goes viral the hopeful presidential candidate announces her future ‘first man’ to the world as ‘cum man’, giving extra meaning to the film’s title.
Fans of screwball rom-coms might hope for some sizzle between Charlize Theron and Seth Rogan, at least enough to sustain a rising tension curve. Sorry, nothing to see here. Rogan plays ‘bogan’ to perfection, with so few redeeming characteristics that warming to him may prove impossible. The lovely Theron plays glamour with authenticity, but a mediocre f-bomb laced script and a role of limited emotional depth means she does not have much to work with. Not only is the chemistry tame, but the idea that two such people would connect in the real world of politics is beyond the bounds of informed imagination.
There are two movies happening in Long Shot, but only one is featured on its trailer. ‘Anything for a laugh’ is a golden rule in show business, and there are a few funny moments in this film, but that’s all folks.
Director: Jonathan Levine
Stars: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, Bob Odenkirk