It’s 2019 and US President Chambers (Bob Odenkirk) is a lazy politician and former television star who thinks that with his current level of popularity, it is a good idea to make his run for movie stardom rather than his second-term as president. He informs the Secretary of State, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) and endorses her as a future presidential candidate.
At a charity event one night, Charlotte meets Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen). He is a shaggy, combative journalist who has just quit his job because the the newspaper he works for has been bought by a wealthy media mogul with a very different approach to media than his. Fred knows his investigative stories won’t survive the new owner. Fred is therefore mentally and emotionally not at his best when he meets Charlotte, but he really feels awkward because he remembers her as the older babysitter he had a crush on when he has 12. She doesn’t recognise him at first, but some quality about Fred is familiar. When she does recall their former association, she appears to remember it fondly, much to Fred’s relief.
Days later, as Charlotte puts together a team of people in advance of her presidential campaign, she hires Fred to write her speeches. She is travelling the world, pushing an environmental initiative that she had a major hand in devising. Fred has some concerns that the compromising nature of politics may lead her to “watering down” her initiative. Fred’s take on political ethics and indeed his presence anywhere near Charlotte, annoys her manager Maggie (June Diane Raphael). Maggie’s goal is to make sure he has as little to so with the Secretary as possible.
As part of his job, Fred tries to understand who Charlotte is now and they spend time together. It gives him a good base to write more relatable speeches for the Secretary of State, but he also starts falling for her again. His crush on Charlotte never really ended.This is the rom-com set up for the new feature film LONG SHOT. Despite being about politics, the movie’s content operates on the level of television’s Madam Secretary and therefore the audience requires very little understanding of the American political system. Everything is spelt-out. It takes some light satirical shots at contemporary politics (President Chambers has a few Trumpian characteristics) but the writing team is clear in its aims. Writer Dan Sterling is from numerous television comedies from South Park to The Office (U.S.) he also helped to write the controversial movie THE INTERVIEW that so upset North Korea in 2014. Writer Liz Hannah was co-writer for Steven Spielberg’s THE POST (2017). Their screenplay is efficient, smart and amusing.
Seth Rogen’s performance is good. If you are acquainted with his back catalogue, then you will know what to expect. Charlize Theron rises to the occasion here. She is mainly the straight person, but is given a number of funny moments which she pulls off nicely. June Diane Raphael as the manager, continues to be as comedically excellent as always.
Director Jonathan Levine has also made WARM BODIES (2013) and SNATCHED (2017) and does a solid job making this film’s somewhat unbelievable premise work. This is a painless, slick occasionally very funny offering that handles the com somewhat better than the rom.