Long Shot is a political romantic comedy following journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) as he is appointed to the role of speech writer for secretary of state Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) as she begins her presidential campaign. (AEG: 3/5)
Review by FF2 Intern Anika Guttormson
Long Shot, directed by Jonathan Levine and written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, is a fun twist on the standard romantic comedy. Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) has just lost his reporting job at a leftist media company when his friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) invites him to an elegant upper class party. Meanwhile, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) sits in the White House asking the President, a bumbling former star who can’t think about anything but his hopeful transition into film, for his endorsement as she announces her upcoming run for presidency. Later that night Fred and Charlotte coincidentally meet up at the party, at which point Fred tells Lance that Charlotte used to babysit for him before he misinterpreted some signals and tried to kiss her. Now, he stands in shock while an adult Charlotte beckons him over. Later, she brings him on as a writer for her campaign and hilarity ensues as they turn from friends to lovers.
The film sets itself up in a way that makes us immediately fall in love with its protagonists. We learn about Fred’s sense of justice when he breaks into a neo-Nazi gathering to write an exposé about their party (reminder that Seth Rogen himself is a Jewish man, as is Flarsky). On the flip side we see Charlotte handle the often ridiculousness demands of her job with grace as President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) himself refers to her as his “secretary” and she has to calmly remind him that she is, in fact, his secretary of state.
Director Dan Sterling is also respectful of Charlotte’s position in a way that doesn’t pat her on the shoulder simply for making it so far as a women. For example, when the leads meet, Fred is impressed by Charlotte’s position without implying that he’s surprised a woman could make it that far, or that he now feels inferior because her position is higher than his. The chemistry between the two characters is palpable. Charlotte is drawn to Fred’s humor and unwavering support—even when he disagrees with her point of view—and Fred is enamored by Charlotte’s intelligence and strength.
The two get off to a rocky start when Fred is forced to put his foot down at an international conference where Charlotte plans to announce her new environmentalist policy proposal on national television. Without diving too deeply into the plan itself, Charlotte mentions to Fred that she is going to cut her commitment to “the trees” if China’s ambassadors don’t go along with the plan. A horrified Fred throws his laptop into the snow as he demands that Charlotte sticks to her original plan and allows her integrity to shine. This urge to compromise when facing an obstacle is Charlotte’s biggest hurdle throughout the film and is a reminder of how often politicians willingly sacrifice the truth in order to get their way.
This leads us into the biggest problem of the film, which is that Long Shot itself avoids taking a strong political stance. You would think that a movie that follows a powerful female politician’s campaign trail would take a hardened stance on women’s rights or environmentalism, but the film seems determined to shoot itself in the foot on this front. In 2019, it’s important for our media to cover important topics such as the current immigration or healthcare crises. Setting aside the political commentary in favor of more screen time for the romance begs the question of why the political aspect was ever included at all. As a viewer I wanted to hear Charlotte tear down her competitors, demand respect when speaking, and lay into those that have denied her a place based on her womanhood alone. Instead, we are given shot after shot of the couple strolling around pretty foreign cities.
Despite its issues, Long Shot manages to be a fun political romantic comedy that is sure to make its audience laugh. Though as a woman in one of those audiences, I wish it had included more politics and taken a stronger stance.
© Anika Guttormson (6/2/18) FF2 Media
Photo Credits: IMDB
Q: Does Long Shot pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
No, Fred is present for most of the film. In the few moments where Charlotte speaks to other women the conversations revolve around Charlotte’s public image and the way that it is affected by her relationship with Fred. Though, the film definitely comments on the absurdity of Charlotte’s situation as a woman, which is that she has to hold herself to a higher standard in her professional life in order to compete with men like President Chambers who are able to get away with being clueless and bad at their jobs.