‘Long Shot’ stumbles in delivery of mismatched romance

Seth Rogen’s crack timing can’t save the rom-com about a disheveled speechwriter and a glamorous presidential hopeful.

Hector Alvarez/Lionsgate/AP
Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen star in 'Long Shot,' directed by Jonathan Levine.

The dismal rom-com “Long Shot,” which doubles as dismal political satire, opens with a scene in which crusading left-wing journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), operating undercover as a fellow racist, chants Nazi slogans at a white nationalist meeting before receiving a swastika tattoo. The actual tattooing is mercifully cut short. Would that the movie had been, too.

Through a series of lamely plotted contrivances, Flarsky ends up as the speechwriter for Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). Field was once Flarsky’s babysitter, and he’s had a crush on her ever since. Embedded in her globe-hopping entourage, he is instructed to punch up her speeches – she has presidential aspirations – and before long, the two are an odd-couple item.

There’s something obnoxious about the way director Jonathan Levine and his screenwriters, Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, play these two polar opposites against each other. The point is made over and over: Why would anybody who looks like Charlize Theron go for someone who looks like Seth Rogen?

Just in case we don’t register the mismatch, Rogen is outfitted to look especially shlubby, and he sports an unbecoming beard that never comes off. With his crack timing, he still manages to get a few laughs, but he would have gotten a whole lot more if the jokes were any good. Theron, meantime, is photographed in full glamour mode throughout. This is probably just as well, since, as an actress, she doesn’t appear to have a comic bone in her body. Therein lies the true mismatch in this coupling. Grade: C- (Rated R for strong sexual content, language throughout, and some drug use.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to ‘Long Shot’ stumbles in delivery of mismatched romance
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today