Long Shot (2019)

JONATHAN LEVINE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBUSA, 2019, , , Story by , Screenplay by Dan Sterling, Cinematography by Produced by , , , , , Music by , Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by , Washington Film Critics Awards 2019.  

Furious that his social justice advocacy newspaper has been purchased by an evil corporation, journalist quits his job out of moral principle and then quickly finds himself needing to make rent in Brooklyn. When his financially successful best friend () takes him to a party attended by high rollers, Rogen runs into the U.S. Secretary of State () who is also, coincidentally, his childhood babysitter upon whom he had a massive crush, the first of a series of highly improbable setups in this frequently funny movie.  She hires him as a speech writer in the hopes that he can punch up her public appearances and improve her image after the current president, a former television star who has no idea how to do the job played by , has told her that he doesn’t plan to run for reelection.  Theron is embarking on a world tour to convince the leaders of one hundred countries to sign on to her environmental bill, at the end of which she will announce her plan to run for President, but her team is worried that she isn’t funny enough to appeal to voters and, against the judgment of her personal team (, who gives the film’s best performance, and ) she picks this perpetually stoned and foul-mouthed schlub for the job.  As they hop from nation to nation, Theron and Rogen develop a kinship that soon turns to romance and threatens her future, as the two of them together could never successfully convince people to let them lead the country as a couple. The chemistry between the leads in this pleasant comedy isn’t exactly firecrackers but it is amiable, and the sequence of her getting high on Molly before having to negotiate a hostage exchange is comedy gold amid what is otherwise a series of pleasant chuckles. Political comedies usually work best when the world of politics is presented accurately, allowing the element of comedy to sweep in as a subversive force, but this film is written by people who only have a vague concept of politics and who can never decide how committed they are to the ludicrous, wholly unbelievable premise (everything in the script to do with her environmental bill comes off as having been researched from headlines in a Google search).  The filmmakers understandably want to reflect their contemporary political scene by presenting a farcical version of the era’s administration, Odenkerk is basically playing Donald Trump without the mean elements (which are all saved for ’ Roger Ailes-like media titan), but playing the White House like it’s an SNL skit lowers the stakes and the two stars’ relationship and their decision about how to deal with it isn’t in the least bit rebellious or exciting…and since that’s the case, there’s no reason for the film to be so long.

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