Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron made a movie with the unlikely working title “Flarsky”. The movie was known to be a comedy, but the title was so WTF everyone sort of wondered if Rogen and his creative partner, Evan Goldberg, had maybe pushed things too far. Turns out: No. Retitled The Long Shot, the movie tested incredibly well—so well, it was pushed from a February death-date to prime summer real estate in June 2019. The first trailer for The Long Shot is here and yes, this does look funny and full of potential.
The trailer itself describes the set up as a reverse Pretty Woman, where Charlize Theron is the super-successful person deigning to spend time with a schlub, in this case Rogen starring as Fred Flarsky (explains the working title, at least). She’s a politician running for president, he’s a writer who goes to work on her campaign, and they maybe start to fall in love (are we sure this isn’t just fanfic written by Jon Lovett). The trailer is hard-selling the rom-com angle, with an unlikely pairing that recalls Knocked Up, which also featured Seth Rogen wooing a woman way out of his league.
I’m not 100% sold that this is an out-and-out romantic comedy, though. Mainly because it comes from Point Grey, Rogen’s production house with Goldberg, and also director Jonathan Levine. Together, those guys have made 50/50 and The Night Before, both movies with a lot of great jokes but, 50/50 especially, are not just comedies. I suspect the political angle in The Long Shot is more than just window dressing for a love story, I bet this movie is as much a political comedy as it is a romantic one.
But they are leaning into the romantic angle because that is what the test audience reacted to, and also, rom-coms are having a bit of a moment. And I’m not saying this won’t be in any portion a romantic comedy. It is clearly a comedy centered around two people sharing an attraction. I’m just saying, based on the history of Rogen, Goldberg, and Levine, don’t surprised if it turns out to be more about politics than anyone wants to think about right now. We want a fun love story about unlikely partners, not a political satire about how hard it is for a woman to win the presidency. So, in that regard, this marketing is a really smart decision. But I do detect under the rom-com jokes a story about a bumbling dude f-cking things up for an ambitious woman at a crucial moment in her career. The chance for this to veer more distinctly into political satire is there. And are we sure this isn’t just Knocked Up in the White House?