Film Review: “Long Shot”

Starring: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Rated: R
Running Time: 125 minutes

I’ll give a smidgen of credit to Hollywood for attempting to change up the tired trope of the average guy getting a woman who is way out of his league. The “Long Shot” follows in line with other movies before it, like “Knocked Up,” “Superbad,” etc. So it’s no surprise that Seth Rogen, the go-to as of late for the down on his luck schmuck, gets paired with Charlize Theron for “Long Shot,” a movie that’s better than it’s supposed to be, but not as good as it thinks it is.

Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is a journalist, who has decided to quit instead of being let-go or continuing to work after his small time paper is bought by a media conglomerate. Through the most bizarre and unlikely of circumstances, Fred becomes reacquainted with Charlotte Field (Theron, his first crush, when she used to babysit him. Charlotte is now one of the most powerful people on the planet, the U.S. Secretary of State. But she has higher aspirations, especially after the President, played briefly, yet incredibly well by Bob Odenkirk, relays to her that he has no plans of seeking re-election. Sparks and complications arise when Charlotte hires Fred on to punch up her speeches as she gets ready to hit the campaign trail.

Whether you like “Long Shot” or not is based solely on the chemistry between Rogen and Theron. The odd couple matching work surprisingly well because Rogen tones down his frat boy antics and Theron demonstrates the comedic timing she’s shown flashes of previously on “Arrested Development” and in “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” Outside of the pull and tug of their contrasting personalities, they manage to have their characters do a bit of soul searching and learning along the way, which elevates the humdrum plot. The comedy is hit or miss, with the hits being crude and the misses being the stereotypical “fat man fall down go boom.”

There’s an underlying smugness to “Long Shot,” but luckily it stops itself from reveling in liberalism for too long in the film’s third act. Granted, I agree with a lot of the film’s political and social insights, but I and others don’t need it being delivered to us in such a ham-fisted fashion. It’s about as politically ferocious as a middle school class president election debate. Although I’d gladly watch a TV show of Rogen and Theron on the campaign trail, munching on the political landscape because it once again plays into the character’s complimentary personas.

“Long Shot” is an average rom-com, where the performances elevate the mundane story. A handful of riotous moments keep the film from dragging during its two-hour runtime, although those with an easily upsettable nature may find the film too crass. It’s hard to ignore the charm of the on-screen duo, even if you find yourself rolling your eyes when the film falls back on rom-com clichés.  

Film Review: “Snatched”

Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn and Randall Park
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hr 30 mins
20th Century Fox

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

As I sat down in the theatre to see her new film, I kept trying to remember when the last time I had seen Goldie Hawn on the big screen. It seemed like forever and I was right. It has been 15 years since she graced movie theatres, her last film being “The Banger Sisters” opposite Susan Sarandon. For almost five decades she has been the goofy but sweet blonde in countless films and now she returns opposite the goofy, not-so-sweet blonde Amy Schumer in the new film “Snatched.”

When we meet Emily (Schumer) we see her preparing for the vacation of her dreams, a trip to South America. However, after she is hilariously dumped by her boyfriend (Park) she realizes she has no one to go with her. She is also upset because the tickets are non-refundable. She decides to invite her mother, Linda (Hawn). Linda is the exact opposite of Emily, cautious whereas her daughter is, let’s say, not cautious. Things go from good to bad quickly when the two women are kidnapped and held for ransom. And with two comic gems like Schumer and Hawn, you can rest assured that comedy ensues.

What makes the film enjoyable is the fact that both stars play off of each other so well. Hawn has always been the smarter-then-she-seems character in films like “The Sugarland Express,” “Shampoo” and “Private Benjamin.” Schumer is more direct that not as smart. The two contrast well verbally, as well as physically when a little slap-stick is called for. They are joined on screen by the always funny Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack, former government agents finally enjoying a vacation. Also funny, as Emily’s “momma’s boy” of a brother Jeffrey, is Ike Barinholtz, probably best known to comedy fans for his work on “The Mindy Project.”

Another reason I enjoyed this film was because it shines a light on what Hollywood thinks an attractive woman should look like. After the ladies are kidnapped, Schumer worries that she will be sold as a sex slave. Her kidnapper tells her that won’t happen because she has a “poofy” face. Earlier in the film, Schumer spends many minutes on screen in a bikini and it is a pleasure to see someone that looks like everyone else in the world and not an anorexic stick. Bravo, Amy!

As the film progresses the plot gets weirder and weirder and not every joke hits. However, there are enough laughs to ensure that we hopefully won’t have to wait another 15 years to see Goldie Hawn on screen.