Let’s talk about Seth
02 May, 2019 — By Dan Carrier
Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron in Long Shot
Directed by Jonathan Levine
DO you like Seth Rogen movies? If so, then this flick has every single element that has created the Rogen genre: a man having gone through the first flushes of youth who is now taking stock of where he is at, plenty of crude Rogen joshing, some recreational drug taking, a few eugh moments…
This time out, Rogen plays campaigning left-wing hack Fred Flarsky, who writes biting investigations for a small Brooklyn newspaper.
When evil media mogul Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis, absolutely hilarious as a panto villain, channelling a collective idea of what Murdoch, the Barclays and Lord Rothermere are like) buys up his paper, Flarsky can either toe the line or quit.
He walks – and is taken out to a swanky event by best mate Lance (O’Shea Jackson) to help drown his sorrows.
Here, he meets secretary of state Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) and they recall how she used to babysit for him.
Field has decided she will go for the presidency – and needs a funny speech writer to give her some traction with voters.
As they criss cross the world, trying to get a new deal to save the planet and also get her nominated, chemistry between this wholly unlikely pair heats up.
It is tempting to see a Trumpian stamp on the vast majority of cultural outpourings from across the pond. How can any film made at the moment not in some way reference the absurdism of US politics today?
A film that has a female Democrat contender as the lead, and is littered in every scene with contemporary political references, means you don’t have to do much deciphering.
Rogen has carved himself a niche on modern film playing essentially the same character over and over again – and a character you can’t help but feel is simply himself when the camera isn’t whirring.
Thankfully he is good at it and creates watchable and likeable leads. As with all his creations, Fred is a man-child – an adult who shows no shame in continuing to indulge in teenage pastimes and has an adolescent approach to love, sex and relationships.
This is a rom-com with a Rogen twist and has all the inherent silliness of the genre. It also has two mismatched leads: Theron’s faintly odd turn as the power-seeking politician feels as shallow as a Trump speech, and the explanation as to why she falls for Fred – she is suddenly impressed by his Gonzo campaigning journalism – is one of a number of plot moments that do not ring true.
Still, you don’t watch rom-coms for a sense of political realism. The jokes range from being crudely unfunny to very funny indeed, both leads are likeable and the supporting role played by June Diane Raphael as a sour-faced special adviser is excellent.
While this is no The Thick Of It satire, its heart feels like it is in the right place.