Friday, March 15, 2019

SXSW with Abe: Long Shot

I’m excited to be attending the film festival at South by Southwest for the second time, and I’ll be posting reviews throughout the week as I see as many movies as possible!

Long Shot
Directed by Jonathan Levine

Most romantic comedies follow the same formula – another film showing at the SXSW Film Festival, entitled “Romantic Comedy,” traces the familiar and problematic representation of women and men in the popular genre. Reality and impressionability aside, the goal of a film that wants to be seen as unique and vital is both to be truly funny and to engage a talented cast in a narrative that might not be creative in its own right but puts a moderate spin on established tropes. This well-timed odd couple movie does just that, positing an entertaining premise and taking it to great, hilarious heights.

Rogen and Theron star in the film

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) survives a brush with a white nationalist sect he attempts to infiltrate for a story and then promptly quits his job when he learns that a mass media publisher has just acquired the newspaper that employs him. A chance run-in with his former babysitter, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is the now the United States Secretary of State, creates the perfect opportunity for the politician to bring a new voice on board as she crafts a groundbreaking treaty that will pave the way for the announcement of a presidential run. Fred’s childish behavior and unkempt appearance do not mesh well with Charlotte’s fast-paced lifestyle and earn him the contempt of her two loyal staffers (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel), but there remains something between Fred and Charlotte that has been there since they first saw eye-to-eye as teenagers with lofty notions of making high school more environmentally friendly.

The director and cast discuss the film

This film’s title refers both to the prospects for romance between its two lead characters and her chances at winning the presidency, particularly as she must constantly appease the idiot actor (Bob Odenkirk) who currently occupies the White House and will endorse her only if she does as he says. Scenes like the ones in which the president watches himself playing the president on television are barely even disguised as mockery of the real-life commander-in-chief, and there’s never been a better moment to have a strong female candidate for president featured in a film like this.

Rogen and Theron discuss the film

Not all the humor is terribly sophisticated, but when things get over-the-top in terms of believability, the laughs only increase. Theron is dynamic and genuine, capable of commanding respect but also aware of her limitations and insecurities. Rogen gives all of himself, dialing up his aggression and energy level to maximize his character’s excessiveness. Raphael, Patel, Odenkirk, and O’Shea Jackson Jr., as Fred’s best friend, offer great support from the supporting cast. This full two-hour film is worth every minute, entertaining and enjoyable the whole way through, making the most of an established concept and delivering it in fantastic form.


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