‘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.)

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