Long Shot (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jonathan Levine|
|Story by||Dan Sterling|
|Box office||$53.9 million|
Long Shot is a 2019 American romantic comedy film directed by Jonathan Levine and written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. The plot follows a journalist (Seth Rogen) who reunites with his former babysitter (Charlize Theron), now the United States Secretary of State. O'Shea Jackson Jr., Andy Serkis, June Diane Raphael, Bob Odenkirk, and Alexander Skarsgård also star.
The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 9, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on May 3, 2019, by Lionsgate. It received generally positive reviews from critics and praise for the chemistry between Rogen and Theron, but flopped at the box office. 
U.S. Secretary of State Charlotte Field learns from President Chambers, a former television actor, that he does not plan on running for a second term as he is trying to break into the movie industry. Seeing an opportunity, she convinces him to endorse her as a potential presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, New York City journalist Fred Flarsky learns that the newspaper he works for has been bought by Parker Wembley, a wealthy media mogul whose ethics directly oppose Fred's. Furious, he promptly quits but cannot find another job. Depressed, he turns to his more successful best friend Lance, who takes him to a charity fundraising event where Boyz II Men happened to be playing. Coincidentally, Charlotte is also in attendance. She and Fred recognize each other, as she was his babysitter and secret crush when they were younger. While they catch up, Wembley interrupts them to plan a meeting with Charlotte, leading Fred to condemn Wembley's actions and beliefs very loudly before leaving, falling down a set of stairs and embarrassing himself in the process.
Upon reading some of Fred's columns, Charlotte decides to hire him to write her speeches over the protests of her Chief of Staff, Maggie. Despite voicing skepticism of her ethics, Fred takes the job. At a world leaders summit, Charlotte is forced to revise a speech involving a planned environmental revision to appease some of her constituents. When Fred objects and calls her out on abandoning her morals, she changes her mind and the speech is a success.
As the two continue to spend time together under the pretext of Fred learning more about Charlotte for his writing, they start to get close. Finally, after surviving a revolution in Manila, they begin a relationship together. Upon finding out, Maggie tries to warn both that the public will never accept them as a couple. When Chambers orders Charlotte to remove plans to preserve the trees, as some friends of his asked, she lets off steam with Fred by getting high on ecstasy. A hostage crisis occurs soon after and, despite still being high, Charlotte manages to talk the captors down and free the hostage.
Even though the incident increases Charlotte's approval rating, Chambers is livid when she chooses to ignore his orders and call him out. He confronts her in his office alongside Wembley, who has a vested interest in removing the trees as part of his plan. The two blackmail her with a hacked video from Fred's webcam. The hacked video depicts Fred discussing his and Charlotte's relationship and Fred further masturbating to a video of one of her speeches, the hacked video culminating in Fred ejaculating on his own face. Charlotte shows Fred the hacked video and informs him that she has agreed to the ultimatum, and that she wants to introduce him and their relationship publicly once his image is cleaned up. Disappointed and unwilling to change, he refuses and they break up.
Back in New York, Fred talks with Lance, who tells him that he has been too stubborn with his principles and refusal to consider other people's needs and opinions. During her announcement to run for president in 2020, Charlotte changes her mind and opts for her original plan, also revealing the blackmail from Wembley and Chambers and describing the content of the video before its release. Fred searches for Charlotte and finds her waiting at his apartment. They admit that they love each other, and meet the press outside where Charlotte introduces Fred as her boyfriend, with the public surprisingly being supportive of them. In 2021, the couple marry and Charlotte is sworn in as the first female president with Fred as "First Mister", him having taken her last name.
- Seth Rogen as Fred Flarsky, an unemployed journalist
- Braxton Herda as Young Fred
- Charlize Theron as Charlotte Field, the U.S. Secretary of State
- Aviva Mongillo as Young Charlotte
- O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Lance, Fred's best friend
- Andy Serkis as Parker Wembley, an international media mogul
- June Diane Raphael as Maggie Millikin, one of Field's two key staffers
- Bob Odenkirk as President Chambers, the President of the United States and a former television actor
- Alexander Skarsgård as James Steward, the Prime Minister of Canada
- Ravi Patel as Tom, one of Field's two key staffers
- Randall Park as Flarsky's boss
- Tristan D. Lalla as Agent M, Field's bodyguard
- James Saito as Minister Kishido
- Lisa Kudrow as Katherine, the head of Field's polling team
- Kurt Braunohler as Wembley News Anchor #1
- Paul Scheer as Wembley News Anchor #2
- Claudia O'Doherty as Wembley News Anchor #3
- Boyz II Men as themselves
- Lil Yachty as himself
Screenwriter Dan Sterling, who around the early 2010s was working for several TV shows, decided to take a break from that field and wanted to pursue a screenwriting career. The script, then titled Flarsky, described by producer Evan Goldberg as "a romantic comedy in the vein of Pretty Woman", has been floating around at Point Grey Pictures since its formation, at the time of production on The Green Hornet. Seth Rogen loved the script and wanted to make the film with Charlize Theron; according to him, it took about "7 years to get popular enough to work with her". Theron eventually agreed to do the film due to her eagerness to work with Rogen. Not only did Theron star and produce the movie, but she also helped out Sterling touch up on her character Charlotte. When director Jonathan Levine came on board as director, he wanted to make a film as a callback to romantic comedies of the 1980s, like Tootsie and When Harry Met Sally.... Since the initial draft of the script was written in the early 2010s and the film deals primarily with current political issues, the crew brought in The Post screenwriter Liz Hannah, whose first Hollywood job was at Theron's production company Denver and Delilah Productions, to help polish up and update the script, they even brought in consultants to help given an authenticity to the script.
In February 2017, the project was announced, with Rogen and Theron attached to star and Levine directing. Rogen was reportedly paid $15 million. In October 2017, O'Shea Jackson Jr. was cast. In November 2017, June Diane Raphael, Ravi Patel, Andy Serkis, Alexander Skarsgård, and Randall Park joined the cast as filming commenced in Montreal.
The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 9, 2019. Originally slated to be released on February 8, 2019, following highly positive test screenings it was pushed back to June 7, 2019 in order to be positioned as a summer tentpole. It was then moved up to its eventual date of May 3, 2019.
While promoting the movie in France on the hit TV show Touche pas à mon poste!, Charlize Theron was shocked when the host Cyril Hanouna gave a friendly kiss to the female translator, not knowing that Hanouna kisses all his staff and collaborators, both men and women, on camera on a daily basis and that kissing is not frowned upon in France as it is in the USA. The event briefly turned viral in France where Hanouna is a household name. The vast majority of viewers defended Hanouna, as well as the cast of the show who felt Theron had totally misinterpreted his intentions. A few days later, the translator also said that she did not feel the kiss was inappropriate. For falsely accusing him of assault and attracting negative press to his show, Hanouna later swore never to invite Theron again.
Long Shot grossed $30.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $22.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $52.9 million.
In the United States and Canada, Long Shot was released alongside The Intruder and UglyDolls, and was projected to gross $9–16 million from 3,230 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $3.6 million on its first day, including $660,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $9.7 million, finishing third. The film held well in its second weekend, grossing $6.1 million and finishing in fifth. The Ringer reported that the film underperformed at the box office, which it partially attributed to its premiere one week after the blockbuster success of Avengers: Endgame.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 286 reviews and an average rating of 7.08/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A sharp and deceptively layered comedy that's further fueled by the odd couple chemistry of its leads, this Long Shot largely hits its marks." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars and a 57% "definite recommend."
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called it "Very funny whatever you think of its more old-fashioned notions, the picture will charm many viewers who can set implausibility aside for a while." Variety's Peter Debruge described the film as: "More creepy than romantic, more chauvinist than empowered — and in all fairness, funnier and more entertaining than any comedy in months — Long Shot serves up the far-fetched wish-fulfillment fantasy of how, for one lucky underdog, pursuing your first love could wind up making you first man."
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