Where have all the rom-coms gone? A decade or so ago, we had lots of them, cascading into cinemas like their own expanded cinematic universe bringing tears, joy and hope of love to us all and that, one day, everything would be ok. But the landscapes of cinema has changed quite a bit in recent times with a lot of the “sleeper” rom-com hits (and comedies in general, for that matter) have taken to Netflix to find an audience. Last year, Set It Up and For All The Boys I Loved were just two of the big successes – and rightly so – but dammit if we don’t need a big-screen romance to keep us going in a world of uncertainty. Enter Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, Rosette and lashings of brilliance.
In a (3rd) re-team with director Jonathan Levine, Rogen stars as Fred Flarsky (the film was originally titled Flarsky), a journalist who is keen to uncover all the wrong doings in the world – whether environmental, financial or just totally bad – and has gained something of a reputation. After a corporate takeover of his magazine, he resigns but soon crosses paths with his old babysitter Charlotte Field (Theron), who has gone from faculty president-elect to actual president-elect after a successful run as Secretary of State. She believes his writing can punch up her speeches for a successful campaign, he still has a thing for her and before you can say It Must Have Been Love – well, it is.
The sheer concept of Theron and Rogen is a complete long shot in itself but it was a shot worth taking as the two together are absolutely sublime to the point of making you wonder “Why haven’t they been making films together forever?!” The film itself was in development for a number of years and Rogen was convinced that his leading lady could only be one person, and after some nifty changes and some beefing up, the resulting film is a perfect blend of everything we love about the classic rom-com. To quote Frank Drebin “It’s the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day” – now, it’s not quite like that but it’s something along those lines, right?
This is Pretty Woman and When Harry Met Sally by way of Superbad and Knocked Up given its typical Rogen-esque humour but such is the delicate balance of the romance and comedy, as well the two dynamic performances at the fore, Long Shot can proudly sit alongside those classics of a time long past. Levine, who made the hugely underrated comedy/drama 50/50 with Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2011, has matured into a great filmmaker and while this doesn’t perhaps need him to flex too many of his muscles, he revels in the human moments and allows his dynamic duo space to bring the tale to life in the most uplifting and hilarious way. There’s some true inspiration here, but a standout moment involving an aforementioned 80’s power ballad is one of the best sequences you’ll see in the cinema this year – and yes, that includes any of the big tent-poles.
While it may not be wholly original as a conceit and its two-hour run time does slightly more harm than good, Long Shot is the comedy film we have been yearning for for a while now. Uplifting, touching, genuinely romantic and with some nice, if albeit a little childish, commentary of the modern political world, this is one of the best films of the year so far and hopefully means the question “Why haven’t Rogen and Theron been doing this forever?!” never be asked again.
Scott J.Davis | [rating=4]
Comedy, Romance | USA, 2019 | 15 | 3rd May 2019 (UK) | Lionsgate Films | Dir. Jonathan Levine | Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis, O’Shea Jackson Jr.