Cinematic Releases: 21st Century Capra: Long Shot (2019) - Reviewed

If Frank Capra made a movie in the year 2019, I imagine it would look at least a little bit like Long Shot, the latest collaboration between Jonathan Levine and Seth Rogen, who worked together previously on the excellent Christmas stoner comedy The Night Before. This time, Rogen finds himself cast onto the campaign trail with Charlize Theron, whose days as an Imperator have been left behind to be the Secretary of State, in a country where Saul Goodman is the President (yes, it's just as bad as you think it would be).

Naturally, the romantic dynamic between Rogen and Theron are what become the focal point of the story, becoming a kind of reverse Pretty Woman where their vastly different worlds prove to be effective to each other's motivations, to almost devastating proportions. But the political messages are loud and clear as ever, obviously calling to a kind of wish that there had been a first Lady President from the 2016 election instead of what we have. Yeah, it's not really subtle in the least, but in Trump-era Hollywood, nothing really is.

Politics notwithstanding, Long Shot is an absolute riot. Rogen's play as a comedy newswriter delivers a brilliant character, bringing an entirely new dynamic to a political campaign trail that becomes the best bit of originality. It's an unorthodox kind of writing- Rogen's character Fred Flarsky (perhaps one of the most unappealing name ever created) is 100% his natural style of comedy: rude, irreverent, and unafraid to speak his mind. Seth and Charlize have an ecstatic chemistry: giving a pair of nuanced character performances whose transformations are easily felt by the audience as they naturally progress. Rogen: the witless, jobless klutz who finds himself unwittingly thrust into the daunting world of politics; and Theron: the refined politician, sure of herself and carrying a commanding presence at all times. Together, the two give a dynamite mix: presenting an unlikely kind of underdog romance that will have you rooting for their relationship before the halfway mark.

Its politics casts a large ubiquitous shadow over the story, but that is part of what makes Long Shot what it is. Frank Capra's politics always maintained at least some kind of presence in all of his films, giving a modernized (at the time) view of American culture and the way American politics mingled and affected everyday people's ordinary lives. Capra's themes are given a more romantic twist, and thrust against 2016's political climate in a newly rendered microcosmic satirization of these heated times- perhaps it's just the kind of film some people will need now. A raucous politico-romantic comedy that isn't afraid to be blunt and obvious about its most audacious worldviews.

-Wes Ball