Whether he’s being banned from North Korean and American cinemas with “The Interview” or creating cult classics with “Superbad,” Seth Rogen has no shortage of experience on his filmography as a writer, director or actor. Audiences are used to seeing him in buddy comedies as the “fat friend” role, which is why it’s so pleasantly surprising to see Rogen in a role where his looks actually move the story forward — even if it is a formulaic romantic comedy.
Rogen and Charlize Theron star in “Long Shot,” a film about Charlotte, a woman with the desire to become president after her stint as the secretary of state, and Fred, a passionate political journalist. After an awkward encounter as teens, the two lived separate lives. When their paths collide at an unlikely event headlined by Boyz II Men, however, the romance begins through comedy. The story is well-written, and each piece of social commentary flows well with the society in which the film is being released without overtly trying too hard to succeed in making people laugh. That’s the film’s biggest strength: the formula is right, and that makes it easy to forget it exists.
Unfortunately, the film is aggressively type-casted in nearly every role. Rogen’s character, Fred, is the designated protagonist who has a great personality under his looks and Lance, his best friend played by O’Shea Jackson Jr., is considered the “ironic” black Republican. Meanwhile, Theron’s portrayal of Charlotte is the graceful, beautiful woman with power who is out of Fred’s league. Luckily, the film centers around an intelligent and powerful woman with ambition and success, which few romantic comedies fail to implement into their cliche storylines. Even with this redemption, however, “Long Shot” falls short of the social comedy vibe that it seeks to achieve throughout.
Romance is new territory for Rogen, obviously, which is why it would have been beneficial to see something more “revolutionary.” Challenge the norms: what if he doesn’t get the girl? Why doesn’t the presidential candidate choose herself? In some ways, it could be argued that she does, and there’s an interesting play on the “boy can’t be with girl” trope; that said, it’s almost juvenile and misses the point of changing the rules of the game. “Long Shot” is an adult comedy, but it often didn’t feel very mature, placing it nowhere near the ranks of beloved rom-coms and only in the mix with recent comedies.
While “Long Shot” and its social commentary will continue gathering some laughs from audiences, they’ll be shallow when considering the type-casting and exhausted formula of every romantic comedy — ever. There was a chance, probably somewhere in the writing, to make this film feel like something fresh and exciting, but the execution didn’t quite make it to the finish line. It won’t be the worst movie that audiences see in 2019, but it may not be in the rankings for the best, either. Enjoyable doesn’t mean incredible, so viewers looking for an original and relatable story might find themselves re-watching “Blockers,” instead.