“Hate” is a strong word used far too liberally in our polarized times. By definition, “hate” is to denote strength and passion—a palpable feeling as the result of a burning desire to express anger. The word is wasted nowadays as people us it to describe their feelings about a mediocre plate of French fries or their annoyance for a meme someone posted online that doesn’t align with a particular world view. My point is, “hate” isn’t a word you should use arbitrarily, lest it lose its value.
But make no mistake: I hate “The Long Shot,” the new comedy starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. I can’t even say “hated” in past tense because my frustration with this turgid pile of festering garbage isn’t reserved for the two hours I wasted watching it. Now forced to recall the film for review, I feel intense, passionate anger toward the movie and everyone involved with the production.
Seth Rogen plays Frank, a guy who feels remarkably like every other character in a Seth Rogen movie. Rogan’s the new Adam Sandler—which is to say he’s become the same guy in every movie and makes almost no effort to differentiate the characters he plays. He’s a scruffy, pot-smoking regular dude who is prone to sound like a loud muppet when he gets angry. At this point his shtick has become so played out, it’s impossible to believe any attempts at creating a character. We’re supposed to believe Frank is a journalist with integrity who has become tired of the perpetual bullshit of the 24-hour news cycle.
His path crosses with Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), the current secretary of state and presidential hopeful. In the world’s most convenient connection, Charlotte used to be Frank’s babysitter. Both wanted to do amazing things with their lives. Charlotte has succeeded by her willingness to play the game, while Frank has failed by sticking to his misguided principles of what constitutes “truth.” They meet again at a party and Charlotte decides to hire Frank to be a speechwriter.
There’s so much to dislike about “The Long Shot.” We’re supposed to be amazed by the creative premise—someone as beautiful and intelligent as Charlotte would fall for a sweaty schlep like Frank. Much of the comedy is to be based on the idea of seeing Charlotte be a “regular person” who enjoys fatty foods, rough sex and occasional recreational drug use. None of it ever feels genuine, though.
God bless Charlize Theron. She’s extremely charismatic and makes an effort to create a fully realized character. Sure, she fails horribly, thanks to some awful writing, but she makes 10 times the effort of Rogen. He just phones in his performance so incoherently I feel certain his new name should be Boost Mobile.
The plot is so hackneyed; attempts at crafting a message are like the workings of a high-school drama club: Earth is good, compromise is bad and even black people can be Republicans! There were multiple points during the movie I audibly groaned, “Seriously?”—mostly at every attempt to try to shoehorn the political messages into a shabbily assembled shit-storm.
There’s also a fundamental problem with the film’s main conceit: that a Charlize Theron would ever fall for a Seth Rogen. I’m not basing this on appearances, either, but the grating pot-smoking persona that seems far less funny every year Seth Rogen ages. It was funny when he was playing a teenager and just amusing in his 20s. Watching a middle-aged drug-obsessed man-child get the girl because of his unflinching principles feels about as likely as Mitch McConnell winning “Sexiest Man Alive.”
I hate “The Long Shot.” I hate it even exists. I hate there are smart people who came together to make something so dumb. I hate the one-dimensional supporting characters. I hate Seth Rogen has yet to turn a corner and evolve into something more nuanced. It’s like watching Tommy Chong on “That 70’s Show” or modern-day Andrew Dice Clay and realizing they’re only capable of one thing—and they just keep beating the dead horse until it’s nothing but a pulpy mass of tissue, bone and blood. “The Long Shot” is a virus and every print of it should be killed with fire.