With bombastic superhero outings currently dominating the cinematic landscape, it feels as though lower key, medium budget comedies don’t have much of a place in theatres anymore. Many seem to now find a Netflix release – think lighthearted movies like Isn’t it Romantic and The Package – suggesting that their lack of expensive CGI visuals and panoramic shots of pricey locations means they don’t need more than a TV screen. Honestly, as sad as it may be, at least this means that these movies are as enjoyable at home as they are at the cinema. Enter the Blu-ray edition of Long Shot, a brilliant, fresh, hilarious movie that didn’t win many audiences in theatres, but one that deserves far more attention from home viewers.
Starting on a bold scene in which Seth Rogen’s character Fred Flarsky sneaks his way into, and swiftly escapes from, a neo-Nazi group, Long Shot explores his latent relationship with Charlize Theron’s Charlotte Field, former high school crush and current US Secretary of State. Beyond their obvious differences in political training and how well preened they each look, there exists a believable connection that leads Charlotte to hire Fred as her official speechwriter. In classic rom-com style, each learns a little from the other, loosening and tightening up as appropriate.
The supporting cast is fine, especially June Diane Raphael as Charlotte’s cold assistant Maggie, but the centrepiece and heart of this film is clearly the chemistry between its two leads and how their unlikely relationship blooms. It’s hard to put into words the kind of connection they share onscreen; it’s really more of a feeling they give off than anything that can be technically analysed. I can only imagine that Theron and Rogen must have met at a glitzy party once, hit it off, and decided to make a surprisingly heartwarming movie based on how absurdly well they clicked. Rogen’s awkward chuckling and dick jokes can become obnoxious alone, but the anxiety under this stoner facade has a fantastic foil in Theron’s laid back Charlotte, who even manages to be cool and in control when on ecstasy for the first time in her life while dealing with a hostage crisis.
With genres like comedy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they are relinquished of their duty to educate or inform their audience; after all, they’re just trying to make you laugh. Therefore, you may think that a comedian like Seth Rogen, who so often uses slapstick and gross-out gags, wouldn’t bother with this either. But this actually puts the effort in to remind you of what they’re mocking: the double standard put onto women in politics. The president is barely competent, and yet Charlotte requires his approval. She must maintain relationships with ‘suitable’ bachelors, lest she is branded the wrong type of woman. And God help her if she tries to be direct about an issue! By using this farce as the basis for so many jokes, the film allows the issues at hand to come to light in a thoughtful, non-patronising way, that challenges while it entertains.
Though the discourse around record-breaking event films isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it’s good to remember that films by major studios don’t always need to have mega-budgets or be part of a multi-layered franchise to be worth watching. Between blockbusters and micro-budget indies, there exists room for movies like Long Shot, that tell humanist stories and have a relevant point to prove.
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum