‘Calm the smurf down!’ – Long Shot (Film review)

It would be inaccurate to label Long Shot as the return of the romcom. That’s because romcoms never really went away. It may be a few years since the mid-budget Hollywood romcom boom and, aside from 2017’s The Big Sick, it may have been a while since we’ve had a truly good and memorable one. There was a period in the noughties where the bromance (aka the artist formally known as the romcom) experienced a brief boom but, as if they were like embarrassing years of adolescence, they went away. The fact Seth Rogen was one of the staples of the Frat Pack makers of bromance reinforces the argument that the romcom never went away but instead progressed adds an interesting point of reflection upon watching Long Shot.

In Long Shot, Rogen plays Fred, the investigative journalist leading/supporting (depending on your viewpoint) man to Charlotte, Charlize Theron’s US Secretary of State. They were childhood neighbours who were a few years apart in age, with teenage Charlotte being Fred’s babysitter. Unexpectedly reunited as adults when both are on the cusp of massive life decisions, Fred has just been fired and Charlotte is making the decision to run for President, it’s kismet that Fred take on the role of writer during her campaign trail.

From there the friendship, and in turn love, blossoms – although of course life has a habit of getting in the way. That’s neither a spoiler nor unexpected considering the genre. What is rather unexpected, and a lovely unexpected surprise at that, is how refreshing played it all is. The trailer features a scene (which seeming didn’t make it into the final cut) where a character refers to their relationship as being ‘reverse Pretty Woman‘ – a apt description of the dynamics between Charlotte and Fred.

More often than not the female character in a romantic comedy has a job that is secondary to her romantic life, rarely is it a job that is given much screen-time or development. And, when it does feature, it’s usually sacrificed in some form or another to preserve a relationship (a regular trope in Hallmark movies, particularly within the Christmas sub-category). In Long Shot, Charlotte’s job is intrinsic to the film and who she is as a person. She’s passionate, smart, kind and determined to do good for the world by looking out for the ‘seas, bees and trees’.

It’s nigh-on impossible to say how refreshing, and unbelievably uplifting it is to see a film about a woman with a high-powered job who loves it and is not penalised for it. From the outset Fred is supportive of Charlotte, happy and accepting in the knowledge that is what she is good at and what makes her happy. This epitomises their dynamic as a will-they, won’t they couple; the connection between them is one of equals. Although there’s clear attraction between them, what pulls them together and unites them is who they are and what they believe in. Even though the story itself, of a presidential candidate and her lead writer may be high concept, their relationship is comfortably high-up on the romcom scale as one of the most positive, respectful and believable relationships.

There’s also the fact the film is very, very funny with a soundtrack that is far more awesome than it needed to be. There’s Springsteen, The Cure, Blondie, The Crystals and… Roxette. Long Shot may not be the return of the romcom, but it’s certainly a real return to form.

[4/5 stars]

Long Shot is in UK cinemas May 3rd.