A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Long Shot is a romcom about presidential candidate Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who hires her childhood friend/babysitting charge Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) to be her speechwriter; both end up getting more than they bargained for. The movie is basically sweet, with positive messages about love and the pursuit of happiness. But content ranges from mature to flat-out raunchy, with extended set pieces that revolve around sex and drugs. Two scenes will draw the majority of parent winces: Charlotte and Fred buy drugs in a club, and she has to navigate a hostage crisis while high, and -- in a scene captured without his knowledge by a hacked webcam -- Fred masturbates, and semen lands on his face (the clip then goes viral). Another scene shows a young teen getting an erection (viewers see it through his pants) when he kisses a girl, and many scenes depict characters smoking pot, drinking to excess, and carrying pills and what looks like an empty bag of cocaine. There are also a couple of unexpectedly violent scenes in which Fred leaps from a second-story window and falls down a flight of concrete steps. Both times he walks away limping, but in real life he likely would have broken bones or worse. Language is frequent and strong: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," etc.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
LONG SHOT stars Charlize Theron as U.S. Secretary of State Charlotte Field, who's thrilled to learn that the current president (Bob Odenkirk) isn't running for another term, clearing the way for her presidential campaign. According to Charlotte's poll numbers, the American public sees her as charismatic and elegant but not very funny. A chance meeting with Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), the alternative newspaper journalist who she used to babysit when she was a teenager, convinces Charlotte that this man is the answer, and she hires him as her speechwriter. As the two travel all over the world together, it seems that more is brewing than a few good speeches. Will America still pull the lever for Charlotte with Flarsky as potential First Husband?
Is it any good?
It's easygoing, studded with genuine-belly-laugh jokes, and has a great cast, but this political romcom loses points for being both utterly predictable and outrageously unrealistic. Rogen, playing a riff on the unsuitable-boyfriend-who-gets-the-hot-girl-anyway character that made him a movie star years ago in Knocked Up, is as charming as ever. And he has real chemistry with Theron, who's as loose and relaxed as she's ever been on-screen. Scenes in which their characters are sparring, flirting, or doing both at the same time are priceless, particularly during one riotous scene in which Madame Secretary and Fred score drugs in a club immediately before Charlotte has to manage an international crisis. It turns out that Molly is an excellent prelude to hostage negotiations, even if Charlotte is conducting them in Fred's teal windbreaker with glitter and sequins falling out of her hair.
But viewers will know where this comedy is headed the moment that Fred catches his ex-babysitter's eye at a party they're both improbably attending. He's a big mess, while she looks like she has it all together at first glance -- but of course, her glossy exterior hides her inner chaos and loneliness. He draws her out and makes her laugh, she makes him respectable ... or does she? The great gaffe this movie makes is asking us to buy that when Charlotte gets over her reservations about dating a schlubby pothead raving liberal alterna-journalist, the American public is enthusiastically willing to embrace the couple. In a world in which political candidates, particularly female ones, are subjected to the most withering scrutiny, would Fred Flarsky's "F" word-laden journalistic output really fly? Unfortunately, for most viewers, this idea will be a bridge too far, and the film doesn't treat this notion satirically or ironically. In the end, the whole enterprise smacks of dude wish fulfillment -- and since viewers have seen this particular average-guy-gets-hot-girl fantasy enacted repeatedly on screens both large and small, it really does a number on the funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Long Shot's premise. How do you think the American public would react to a presidential candidate who was dating? What about one who was dating someone like Fred Flarsky?
How would you characterize the movie's treatment of politics? Does it seem like this is how politics really play out in life? Would a female presidential candidate really be subject to this level of interest and scrutiny?
What does Fred's hacked-webcam situation say about the nature of online fame and the need for privacy?
Have you seen other movies that center on the "hot girl loves average guy" scenario? How do you feel about that setup? Why do you think it's rarely, if ever, gender-flipped?
- In theaters: May 3, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: July 30, 2019
- Cast: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael
- Director: Jonathan Levine
- Studios: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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