Political rom-com 'Long Shot' 2019's funniest crowd-pleaser so far

  • Fred (Seth Rogen) had a crush on his baby sitter Charlotte (Charlize Theron) when he was a kid. Now she's the U. S. Secretary of State and he's writing speeches for her in Jonathan Levine's laugh-packed political rom-com "Long Shot."

    Fred (Seth Rogen) had a crush on his baby sitter Charlotte (Charlize Theron) when he was a kid. Now she's the U. S. Secretary of State and he's writing speeches for her in Jonathan Levine's laugh-packed political rom-com "Long Shot." Courtesy of Lionsgate

  • Bob Odenkirk stars as an actor-turned-president in the political rom-com "Long Shot."

    Bob Odenkirk stars as an actor-turned-president in the political rom-com "Long Shot." Courtesy of Lionsgate

 
 

"Long Shot" - ★ ★ ★

Jonathan Levine's spunky, politically incorrect and highly unlikely (but likable) political rom-com attests to the virtues of honesty, transparency, empathy and integrity.

But more than that, this daringly clever "Lady and the Tramp" offshoot also calls America on the carpet for its sexual hypocrisy by making a raunchy, bodacious declaration of emancipation from shame and ridicule.

Let me take a shot at explaining how this movie title harbors multiple meanings.

Long Shot No. 1: Can an unkempt independent journalist in pegged cargo pants and a jockey jacket romance the most beautiful, classiest woman in politics?

Reporter Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen, perfecting his standard-issue slob with a heart of gold) quits his job in a rage when slimy media mogul Parker Wembley (a Rupert Murdoch stand-in played by a nearly unrecognizable Andy Serkis) buys his newspaper.

Fred's well-connected best pal Lance (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) takes him to a posh Manhattan party where, among all the celebs, politicians and VIPs, the gorgeous Secretary of State Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron, rocking every dress she wears), stares at him.

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Fred prays she won't remember him as the infatuated little boy she used to baby-sit back in her idealistic teenage years.

Charlotte likes Fred's drive and sense of humor, and hires him to pump up her speeches, not knowing he idolizes her.

Meanwhile, Charlotte's advisers Maggie and Tom (superbly underplayed by June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel) see where their boss and her embarrassing new hire are headed, and try to derail a politically suicidal relationship.

But what chance does Fred have with a woman being courted by the Canadian prime minister (Alexander Skarsgard), whose good looks mask a charmless dweeb?

Long Shot No. 2: Can a smart, committed Secretary of State become America's first female president?

All Charlotte needs to begin her campaign is the support of flighty, self-obsessed President Chambers (former Naperville resident Bob Odenkirk), a twit who played a U.S. president on a TV show so well, American voters actually elected him to the office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Long Shot No. 3: It's a shocker sight gag created by screenwriters Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, taking a lead from an outrageous scene in the Farrelly brothers' "There's Something About Mary."

Levine finds a delicate balance between hilarity and gross-out to create a humanizing "deal with it" moment that boldly asserts the self-evident truth: "Everyone does it."

Long Shot No. 4: This comedy thrives on the most implausible events and ridiculous plot lines, yet, they address acute truths, such as Charlotte's rant against sexual double-standards in politics -- how women would be branded as "irrational" or "hysterical" if they acted as many men do.

This retrograde comedy harks back to vintage Judd Apatow in its use of lovable, flawed characters anchoring setup after setup of randy, anti-PC nuttiness. (Charlotte picks a bad time to get wasted on Ecstasy, just as an international crisis looms and she's in charge of dealing with it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Longest Shot of all: What are the odds that this zany rom-com would turn out to be the funniest crowd-pleaser of 2019 so far?

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Starring: Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, Bob Odenkirk

Directed by: Jonathan Levine

Other: A Lionsgate release. Rated R for language, nudity, sexual situations. 123 minutes

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