Romantic comedies about unlikely couples have always been a speciality of Seth Rogen’s, from Superbad to Knocked Up. Initial casting news for his latest effort Long Shot confirmed it would continue this trend, with Seth cast as the main lead opposite Charlize Theron. When the trailer was released most of the gags came from the odd nature of their pairing. However, the marketing for this film has been misleading. Instead, this is a film that asks you to consider gender roles in our society, our unconscious biases and the importance of self-image in the age of social media.
Rogen stars as self-righteous, left-wing journalist Fred Flarsky who works for a small magazine that allows him to print his angry and pointed articles. However, when his magazine is bought by a larger corporation, he quits and seeks solace in his best friend Lance, played to perfection by O’Shea Jackson Jr. Lance decides to take his friend out to a party where they run into Fred’s old babysitter Charlotte Field (Theron), who is now Secretary of State. The current President, a former television star who wants to leave office for the big screen, has vowed to support her campaign to run in the 2020 election. The two rekindle and Charlotte hires Fred as speechwriter, as campaign research suggests that she needs to show a more humorous side.
The research itself is presented through a hilarious cameo from Lisa Kudrow, who details how important public image and perception are to a politician. This is the main theme explored in the film, especially as Fred and Charlotte’s relationship develops from friendship into something more serious. As they get closer to each other, there starts to become conflicts between the journalist who believes in free speech and not compromising and the politician who has compromised everything to get into the highest position possible. Many elements are woven through this film, which can sometimes struggle to flow together as the film balances humour with romance with politics. It is largely held together by the excellent and surprising chemistry between Rogen and Theron who bring life to their characters, in both their goofiest and more serious moments.
Although there are still aspects of Rogen’s familiar brand of humour, such as the cringe-inducing flashback scene of him and Charlotte as children, this film also weaves in themes that hold relevance today. It questions the systems we have in place, how one can climb to the top and the sacrifices that have to be made to do so. It considers how women can be defined by their romantic relationships or by the clothes that they wear or how approachable their wave seems, despite none of these being relevant to their position. However, at several points in the film, it seems as though these themes are forced into the scene, rather than naturally flowing through it.
Despite the progressive nature of Long Shot in subverting the traditional power dynamic of male and female characters, it is interesting that the female lead is still portrayed as the more attractive of the two. It would have been interesting to consider how this would have been the same had Rogen’s character been a woman and whether the perception of the character would have been greatly altered by it. The film does take great strides in avoiding stereotypes, especially considering it is within the romantic comedy genre, but there are still some steps to be taken.
by Aleena Augustine
Aleena is a Classics graduate who splits her time between High Wycombe and wherever the latest film or TV show she is binging is set. She enjoys watching rom-coms (they are not just a guilty pleasure), coming of age films (from John Hughes to Greta Gerwig), animated films (cries at every single one), comedies featuring a strong female ensemble (thank you, Bridesmaids) and psychological thrillers (BONUS if they’re directed by David Fincher). You can find her on her blog, That’s What She Said and as a contributor at, Music Bloggery.
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