So this review comes a little later than intended, especially given that Long Shot had its wide release early last month. Nonetheless, this is for those of you who might still be able to catch it in theatres, or would otherwise like to catch it on DVD or online, because either way this surprisingly relevant, hilariously raucous affair is very much worth the price of admission.
Jonathan Levine has proven his directorial mettle in the past with Warm Bodies and, in particular, 50/50, yet he has been on something of a creative downturn as of late, with The Night Before and Snatched missing both the engaging characters and relatable comedy that constituted his best works.
While Long Shot lacks the visceral, even tragically human edge that made 50/50 such a triumph of dramedy, it still delivers enough impactful drama to act as a counterbalance for its occasionally over-the-top, but frequently laugh-out-loud moments.
This is truly one of the funniest comedies I have seen in some time, as well as one of the sharpest political satires. Screenwriters Liz Hannah and Dan Sterling deliver a screenplay that is in tune with the shifting paradigms of politics and journalism (and the relationship between the two), which is proving to be something of Hannah’s forte, given that this is the follow-up to her debut screenplay The Post, which was directed by Steven Spielberg.
Yet, this is also an intriguing leap for Hannah, because as mentioned before, the comedy is very much over-the-top, even to the point of being gross-out at times. This approach threaten, at times, to undermine its dramatic core, but thankfully Levine’s deft direction just about keeps it within the boundaries of reason to side-splitting effect.
Although, not even the likes of Mel Brooks could pull off such a balancing act without the right leads, and the unlikely pairing of Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen make for some inspired casting.
Theron is better recognised for her dramatic heft, while Rogen is renowned for his comedic acumen, and although the two have dabbled in the each other’s genre of choice (Theron in Young Adult, Rogen in Steve Jobs), both handle the dynamism of their roles with a complementary grace.
Normally, it would be difficult to buy into characters played by Theron and Rogen as being romantically involved, but the writing offers their characters the perfect foundational chemistry to work with, and Levine’s direction paired with the actors’ committed performances makes for the trifecta, allowing audiences to wholeheartedly buy into their budding affections without a second thought.
In between all the laughs and romance there is light political drama, which works for the most part, making a noticeable plea to the current U.S. government to address pressing environmental issues that they choose to ignore. Despite the nobility of this narrative endeavour, it must be said that the pacing occasionally suffers under these politicised pursuits.
Nonetheless, the only truly noteworthy lull is in the transition between the first two acts, which is eventually offset by the constant development of both its leading and supporting characters (a special mention here for Alexander Skarsgård’s light riffing of Justin Trudeau), and a second half that delivers its most significant moments of comic ingenuity. In spite of the title, dedicating yourself to Jonathan Levine’s latest feature is anything but a long shot.