Skip to main content

You don’t think Jennifer Aniston’s a movie star?

Long Shot
(2019)

(SPOILERS) What the hell am I doing, watching Seth Rogen movies? This is the second one in two months, and I was I sure I’d sworn off the boorish oaf. Presumably, I’m not alone, since Long Shot may have been largely well reviewed, but it also flopped. Could it be that moviegoers just don’t see Rogen as a romantic lead? Even – or especially – in a gender reversed ugly duckling role? At one point, referring to Charlize Theron’s Secretary of State and presidential hopeful’s thing with his stoner schlub (he’s stretching himself there) journalist-cum-speechwriter, June Diane Raphael’s staffer tells him “The public will never accept the two of you together”. It should have been on the poster. As it is, it’s simply Long Shot’s epitaph. Feel something different? Only if being a little sick in my mouth qualifies.

Rogen’s Fred Flarsky – his surname was the original title, which is at least less anonymous than what we got – even gets a makeover at one point, which entails making his pubic beard slightly less all-encompassing and reduxing him in a tux. Theron’s Charlotte Field tells him how pretty he looks, which even Theron isn’t a good enough thesp to make convincing. The picture keeps running Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love as an affectionate call back to Pretty Woman, but that fantasy fairy tale looks wholly believable placed alongside Long Shot. Rogen and Theron have easy chemistry as pals, but that doesn’t make them remotely plausible romantically.

And that’s down to Rogen, not just down to Rogen’s appearance. He’s doing exactly the same act he does in every movie, and romantic sincerity just isn’t in his repertoire. What is, is the usual bag of Rogen stoner tricks, this time showing us how the world can be saved through slobbing out and getting wasted, as long as you have correct basic ethics. Along with a vague embrace of inclusivity and listening to all points of view, as when best pal O’Shea Jackson Jr reveals himself to be a God-fearing Republican; Jackson is somehow playing Rogen’s contemporary despite being almost a decade younger, while Rogen is playing older – early forties, most likely, since it is noted that the three years older Charlotte used to babysit him (“Wow, time has not been kind”).

The screenplay is credited to Dan Sterling (The Interview) and Liz Hannah, but it has Rogen and producer partner Evan Goldberg’s fingerprints all over it. Rogen could have stepped straight out of The Night Before and into this one (with which Long Shot shares director Jonathan Levine and a penchant for celeb cameos, this time Boyz II Men). We open with Jewish gags (he’s undercover with neo-Nazis and has to get a swastika tattoo), followed by his glorified drug habit (he takes ecstasy with the Secretary of State, leading to an amusing scene where she’s as high as a kite during a hostage negotiation), and for the main course, inevitable gross out (he spunks in his beard while masturbating to footage of her; his salient memory of her babysitting days is her noticing his erection).

Rogen’s broad-brush approach to the world of politics is very much of the same ilk as the 80s movies he reveres so much: the shallowness of Working Girl, but with added weed. Despite being a pothead, Rogen’s character seems oblivious to conspiracies (bar a gag about who killed Kennedy), and for a journalist, doubtless familiar with the culture, Flarsky’s entirely oblivious to the possibility of being under surveillance while working for and dating a high-ranking member of government. Indeed, it’s Andy Serkis’ media mogul – Serkis under a layer of prosthetics that were, apparently, at his insistence – who is responsible for hacking Flarsky’s webcam; no deep state here to worry about, only the President’s backers (also for the purposes of the plot, the Secretary of State is apparently under the blissful illusion that the President is the flagpole, until divested of this re the influence of his backers, which rather indicates she isn’t really very aware).

All of which is merely to point out that there’s little in the way of smarts going on with the politics of Long Shot, nuzzling as it does the standard struggle for environmental change as its lazy crux. Theron’s great, naturally, and as gifted a comic actor as she is in serious mode, but she and Levine offer the material more respect that it deserves. Alexander Skarsgård plays the flirtatious Canadian PM, in a role I suspect was earmarked for James Franco before he became non grata. The picture ends with Theron and Rogen in the White House, doubtless set to put the world to rights through the power of toking it easy. A great political romantic comedy that actually has some barbs and insights is possible – one was made more than twenty years ago, and it featured a stoned senator – but Rogen’s sub-Cheech and Chong reefer world view isn’t the means to deliver it.



Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

Careful how much boat you’re eating.

Onward (2020) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s Bright , or thereabouts. The interesting thing – perhaps the only interesting thing – about Onward is that it’s almost indiscernible from a DreamWorks Animation effort, where once they cocked a snook at such cheap-seats fare, seeing themselves as better class of animation house altogether. Just about everything in Onward is shamelessly derivative, from the Harry Potter /fantasy genre cash-in to the use of the standard Pixar formula whereby any scenario remotely eccentric or exotic is buried beneath the banal signifiers of modern society: because anything you can imagine must be dragged down to tangible everyday reference points or kids won’t be able to assimilate it. And then there’s the choice of lead voices, in-Disney star-slaves Chris Pratt and Tom Holland.

Our "Bullshit!" team has unearthed spectacular new evidence, which suggests, that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, the Loch Ness Monster.

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) Cheeseburger Film Sandwich . Apparently, that’s what the French call Amazon Women on the Moon . Except that it probably sounds a little more elegant, since they’d be saying it in French (I hope so, anyway). Given the title, it should be no surprise that it is regarded as a sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie . Which, in some respects, it is. John Landis originally planned to direct the whole of Amazon Women himself, but brought in other directors due to scheduling issues. The finished film is as much of a mess as Kentucky Fried Movie , arrayed with more miss sketches than hit ones, although it’s decidedly less crude and haphazard than the earlier picture. Some have attempted to reclaim Amazon Women as a dazzling satire on TV’s takeover of our lives, but that’s stretching it. There is a fair bit of satire in there, but the filmmakers were just trying to be funny; there’s no polemic or express commentary. But even on such moderate t

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.

Waterworld (1995) (SPOILERS) The production and budgetary woes of “ Kevin’s Gate ” will forever overshadow the movie’s content (and while it may have been the most expensive movie ever to that point – adjusted for inflation, it seems only Cleopatra came close – it has since turned a profit). However, should you somehow manage to avoid the distraction of those legendary problems, the real qualitative concerns are sure to come sailing over the cognitive horizon eventually; Waterworld is just so damned derivative. It’s a seafaring Mad Max. Peter Rader, who first came up with the idea in 1986, admitted as much. David Twohy, who later came aboard, also cited Mad Max 2 ; that kind of rip-off aspect – Jaws birthing Piranha – makes it unsurprising Waterworld was once under consideration by Roger Corman (he couldn’t cost it cheaply enough). Ultimately, there’s never a sufficient sense the movie has managed to become its own thing. Which is a bummer, because it’s frequently quite good fun.

Wow. Asteroids are made of farts. Okay. I got it.

Greenland (2020) (SPOILERS) Global terror porn for overpopulation adherents as Gerard Butler and his family do their darnedest to reach the safety of a bunker in the titular country in the face of an imminent comet impact. Basically, what if 2012 were played straight? These things come to test cinemas in cycles, of course. Sean Connery struggled with a duff rug and a stack of mud in Meteor , while Deep Impact plumbed for another dread comet and Armageddon an asteroid. The former, owing to the combined forces of Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, was a – relatively – more meditative fare. The latter was directed by Michael Bay. And then there’s Roland Emmerich, who having hoisted a big freeze on us in The Day After Tomorrow then wreaked a relatively original source of devastation in the form of 2012 ’s overheating Earth’s core. Greenland , meanwhile, is pretty much what you’d expect from the director of Angel Has Fallen .