What’s the film about?
Fiery journalist Fred Flarksy finds himself unemployed after walking out of the publication he works for when it’s taken over by a news conglomerate, run by a slimy Rupert Murdoch-esque media mogul. A chance meeting with his old babysitter Charlotte Field – on whom Fred had a major teenage crush and now happens to be Secretary of State – brings an interesting job opportunity. Before long, Fred is unemployed no more, travelling with world with Charlotte as a writer that helps punch up her speeches. But Fred’s a liberal, previously writing such pieces as ‘Why the Two-Party System Can Suck A Dick’, while Charlotte’s preparing to take the reigns from the current prime minister and is prepared to compromise on her policies to get there. Despite their differences, the two have an easy chemistry which soon develops into sexual tension. Regardless of the efforts of Charlotte’s trusted advisors, as they begin to explore these feelings (and find themselves embroiled in a scandal involving a tapped webcam), it begs the question: can these two people from completely different worlds ever make it work?
Who stars in it?
Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) stars as Charlotte Field, whose outward-facing image of pure grace and charm masks the fact that she is running herself into the ground, taking micro-naps with her eyes open and phone interviews as she exercises. Seth Rogen takes on the role of Fred Flarskey, who comes in and shows her that work isn’t everything, but integrity is. (Despite this positive message, it’s wrapped up in the typical Seth Rogen character profile: weed smoker, immature, brash.) And there’s a whole host of other famous faces too: June Diane Raphael (New Girl, Big Mouth) as Charlotte’s right-hand woman and key advisor, Maggie; O’Shea Jackson Jr (Ingrid Goes West, Straight Outta Compton) as Fred’s best friend and part-time hype man, Lance; Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, Fargo) as the movie and TV-obsessed President Chambers; and Andy Serkis (Black Panther, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), recognisable for being unrecognisable as news conglomerate head, Parker Wembley.
Apart from the great acting, why all the hype?
Essentially, if you like Seth Rogen films, this one will be right up your street. It’s laugh-out-loud funny in places, even if it does occasionally veer into slapstick territory.
The only thing is, we’re not sure this is going to age particularly well. It’s funny and sweet and some threads of the plot are of its time, but at its core what we see is an immature man refusing to change and a woman making concessions in her life because of that. (Fred dresses in a uniform of snapbacks and brightly coloured windbreakers and an almost uncontrollable temper – if this were the other way around he’d be forced into a mid-film makeover). While there are some things that he does right, like convincing Charlotte to stand up for the things she believes in and not give in to the greed that so overwhelms male politicians, this seems like a stale point.
But it does speak some truths too. You can see that many of the characters mirror real political figures – a dimwit president with an obsession with reality TV; the sweet, handsome Canadian prime minister who’s a bit of a nerd; the sexist Fox News anchors; the Hillary Clinton who has to tread carefully to make it half as far as her male counterpoints (wrapped up in a model’s body, mind you). It’s even explained to Fred by Charlotte as she critiques one of his speeches that certain behaviours will be perceived as “hysterical” and “irrational” when it comes to women but will sit on men as badges of toughness.
Still, the film is fun if you try not to take it too seriously. Extremely far-fetched, but fun, and funny. Charlize Theron has shown glimpses of her comedic chops before, in the likes of Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West and Mitchell Hurwitz’s Arrested Development, but this has really given her a chance to shine, and she particularly glitters in a scene where she must negotiate the release of an American hostage after a particularly heavy night. It’s her comedic aptitude that makes her and Rogen’s chemistry so effortless, and despite some missteps along the way, it makes Long Shot well worth a watch.
Watch Long Shot in cinemas from 3rd May 2019.
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