Brilliantly hysterical Charlize Theron’s Secretary of State Charlotte Field crouches in the basement under terrorist siege with her speech writer Fred Flarsky, who’s been in love with her since he was 12 years-old. Charlotte instructs Fred in the Navy SEALS calming technique: taking deep breaths in 4 seconds intervals. Charlotte counts, “One. Two. Three. Four.” Fred follows her lead. It works. So does Director Jonathan Levine’s “Long Shot” as a whole.
At times, Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah’s screenplay is politically clichéd and ‘in your face’ raunch. “Long Shot” is about the compromises we tolerate, where we sell out, and ultimately when we take a stand. That made me laugh out loud and touched my heart.
Charlize plays Secretary of State Charlotte Fields, the strikingly beautiful and smart protégé of hilariously irrelevant President Chambers, played by Bob Odenkirk. The President, the former TV Actor, informs Charlotte that he will not seek a second Presidential term so that he can pursue his movie acting career. WTF? According to Dan and Liz’s narrative, only two TV actors have ever made that transition: George Clooney and Woody Harrelson. “Not Jennifer Aniston.” Too funny.
Clearly, the Secretary of State persona is a loose homage to Hilary Clinton. Very loose. Charlotte is about to embark on her global trip to enroll countries in her environmental treaty, what she dreamed of back when she was 16 years-old. The President will endorse Charlotte in her run for the White House. Yeah.
Image consultant Katherine played by goofy wit Lisa Kudrow tells Charlotte and her Campaign Manager Maggie, played by hilariously duplicitous June Diane Raphael, that Charlotte polls over 90% in all appeal metrics, except relatability. Even her lame hand wave needs a makeover. Charlotte actually reads synopses for “Game of Thrones” instead of actually watching episodes. OMG. So Charlotte needs a speechwriter to humanize her persona, i.e. loosen her up.
Seth Rogen plays Fred, the slovenly tapered cargo pants wearing renegade journalist for the “Brooklyn Advocate”. However, when the “Advocate” is bought out by billionaire Parker Wembley, played by unrecognizable Andy Serkis with Rupert Murdock caricature zeal, Fred quits.
Fred calls his best buddy Lance, played by funny charismatic O’Shea Jackson Jr., who owns his thriving business in DC. Lance gives his company the day off so he can party with Fred. Lance brings Fred along to a political fundraiser featuring his favorite group Boyz II Men, unfortunately sans Bobby Brown. Dancing to their favorite 90’s band, Fred and Charlotte recognize each other.
When Charlotte was 16 years-old she was 13 year-old Fred’s babysitter. He had a mad crush on pretty Charlotte. 13 year-old Fred suffered the nearly devastating hormonal mishap. Yet, young Charlotte was kind to him. That’s something that Lance wisely reminds Fred of in his recall. In a ridiculous confrontation, Charlotte discovers that Fred is a journalist.
On the ride back home, introspective Charlotte tells Maggie that she was Fred’s babysitter. Fred was this brilliant, kind, funny kid. “He had a chip on his shoulder.”
In Director Jonathan’s narrative, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter. Yeah, this is romantic comedy. Predictably Charlotte and Fred fall for each other, as unlikely as it seems. In a quiet moment, Fred asks Charlotte about her love life. According to media tabloids, she’s dating Canadian Prime Minister James Steward, played by handsome aplomb Alexander Skarsgard delivering the most insane accent. That’s all show. She smiles, “Guys don’t want to date a woman more powerful than them. It’s a real d**k shriveler.” Amen.
Amidst the formulaic trials and chaotic tribulations, Charlize and Seth share genuine kindness for each other as Charlotte and Fred. There’s the subdued prejudice for the beautiful woman falling for the ‘not so hot’ dude that Writers Dan and Hannah illustrate. Of course with all due respect to Seth. Still, this lands.
In “Long Shot” what’s in your heart really matters. Watching the glorious aurora in the night Stockholm sky, Fred tears up. Charlotte looks at Fred, “Are you crying?” Even with all his bluster and tantrums, Fred has a good heart. Seth Rogen is so vulnerable and authentically funny. Charlize is the comedic surprise. She never tries to be funny. She just is. Charlize radiates Charlotte’s sublime sadness and compassionate soul. Confessing to Fred, “I’m so afraid…” touches your heart.
Charlotte and Fred slow dance to her favorite teen song “It Must Have Been Love” by ’90s band Roxette. They don’t say a word. We get it. In “Long Shot”: It must have been love. That’s what keeps you watching. Just saying.