FlixChatter Review: LONG SHOT (2019)

Let me preface this review that I rarely go to R-rated comedies, particularly those with Seth Rogen in it. In fact, the last movie I saw Seth Rogen in a movie is probably 50/50 a decade ago with Joseph Gordon-Levitt which interestingly enough is also directed by Jonathan Levine. Yet there’s something about the story that appealed to me, primarily Charlize Theron‘s casting, and trailer made me laugh.

Speaking of miss Theron, her beauty and intellect suits her role perfectly here. She plays Charlotte Field, an accomplished politician, the youngest secretary of state who’s running for president. In contrast, Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is a talented and free-spirited journalist who’s perhaps too idealistic for his own good. We first see Flarsky in an undercover stint involving white supremacist group, an ordeal that could’ve easily cost him his life. When he later finds out his paper is being bought by a media magnate Parker Wembley (an unrecognizable Andy Serkis, clearly lampooning Rupert Murdoch), Fred immediately quits on principle.

When Fred and Charlotte meet, it’s not exactly a meet-cute but it’s definitely a memorable one involving 90s R&B icons Boyz II Men. Apparently she was his babysitter in his early teens and she has been his crush ever since. That meet-up leads to Fred being hired by Charlotte herself as her speechwriter, despite the protests of her staff members Tom (Ravi Patel) and Maggie (June Diane Raphael). Maggie distrusts Fred from the start and she couldn’t fathom seeing her glamorous boss dates the likes of him. Charlotte feels that Fred would provide a fresh voice and improves her more serious image with his youthful idealism and in a way, he does.

I’m glad there are more of these unconventional rom-com being made, as last February we saw Isn’t It Romantic? that’s both a spoof and an homage to the romantic comedy genre. As the title suggests, Charlotte is a long-shot romantically for someone like Fred, while Charlote is a long-shot presidential contender (playing on the notion that America still isn’t ready for a woman president). For any rom-com to work, even the most unconventional one, there would have to be chemistry between the two romantic leads. I’d say Charlize and Seth have a good rapport and comedic chemistry, but to say they have strong romantic chemistry would be a stretch. That said, there’s enough going for them that made me curious about their journey.

Writers Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah make a point that even the most beautiful & successful people do get lonely. Theron displays a certain vulnerability that makes her relatable despite her goddess-like appearance. She also has comedic chops and made Charlotte likable enough that it’s easy to root for her. Rogen’s Fred takes a while to warm up to, even if you can’t help empathize with his fish-out-of-water experience as he goes on the road with Charlotte. Undoubtedly there’ll be friction when two people with few things in common are suddenly thrown together, but how Fred views the world is quite problematic. Most politically-inclined movies out of Hollywood are usually far-left leaning, and this movie is no different. But I appreciate that the movie doesn’t shy away from showing how people with extreme worldview inherently hold prejudices. There’s a particularly in a memorable exchange between him and his loyal friend Lance (a terrific O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) that draws laughs, but that topic is definitely thought-provoking.

The R-rating is warranted given the amount of sexual, drug-related humor and profanity. There’s also a vulgar scene where I’m glad I averted my eyes, let’s just say it conjured up a scene from a classic R-rated rom-com There’s Something About Mary. The amount of physical comedy here is so fantastical that it’s practically cartoonish as in real life those incidents would result in him being seriously injured or dead. While the film comments on the tricky, slippery nature of politics, especially as an underdog AND as a woman, at times the way it’s presented are too ludicrous or too simplistic. Some of the supporting characters are downright cartoonish as well. Bob Odenkirk plays the TV-star turned US president who yearns to be a movie star, and Alexander Skarsgård relishes his comedic muscle as a hunky-but-shallow Canadian PM.

Despite the flaws, I find myself enjoying the movie for the most part. Some of the pop-culture jokes were funny, especially when it mentions a huge superhero blockbuster movie that’s still very much on top of the box office when this one comes out. There are some predictable beats and over-the-top scenes, but Levine managed to keep the movie engaging throughout. The ending is actually more in line with a typical rom-com in that it’s a crowd-pleasing, fantastical wish-fulfillment. It doesn’t exactly ring true, but at least it was an amusing surprise. I’d say if you’re a fan of raunchy comedies, you’d likely have fun with this. But if this sub-genre isn’t your thing, you might still enjoy this if you like the cast.


Have you seen LONG SHOT? Let me know what you think!

Weekend Viewing Roundup & Warm Bodies Review

It’s a pretty uneventful weekend for me movie-wise, but I got to meet up my old college buddy I haven’t seen in years! So it was a lovely weekend in that regard though she’s as far away from being a cinephile as it gets. The last movie she saw at the theater was Nacho Libre, ahahaha.

TheFamilyPosterWell, I didn’t get to the theater nor any screenings this past week. I’m definitely NOT missing out on The Getaway based on Terrence’s review, ahah, it looks so darn awful from the trailer alone. I am looking forward to screenings in the next two weeks though, I’ve rsvp-ed for Don Jon, Gravity, and Runner, Runner. Oh and also the mafia comedy The Family w/ Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones. Trailer looks meh but I’m hoping it’ll still be good with a cast of THIS caliber.

So this weekend I only watched Warm Bodies and rewatched one of my fave Bond films, The Living Daylights. I guess I was inspired by Zoë’s excellent review recently where she praised Dalton’s take as Bond (atta girl!) So yeah, TLD AND Dalton as 007 is still as awesome as the first time I saw it.

Here’s my review from this weekend:

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I’ve been curious about this zombie comedy for quite some time as lots of people seem to love it. Now, I’m not a fan of the popular Zombie sub-genre, I think I’ve only like one zombie movie and that is Shaun of the Dead (I love 28 Days Later too, but that one is SO much more than just a zombie movie).

As with most zombie movies, some sort of plague has come over the world which render most humans to become walking corpses. This movie still pretty much subscribe to what we typically assume about zombies: they walk slowly, they eat brains and of course they look like decayed corpses, though the zombies in this movie seem to look far less gory, and sometimes they’re pretty agile too. One twist in this story, which was based on a novel by Isaac Marion, there are certain levels of being undead. There are Zombies and there are Boneys, which are zombies who’ve lost all traces of their humanity and flesh, so basically they’re skeletal zombies, preying on anything with a heartbeat.

Being that it’s a zombie romance, of course it’s entirely predictable that the protagonist R (as he no longer remembers his real name), falls for a human girl and saves her from a horde of fellow zombies. The first meeting of R & Julie amidst a zombie attack isn’t exactly a meet-cute, but it’s certainly amusing. After having eaten up her boyfriend, R ends up saving Julie (Palmer) and takes her to his house, which was a discarded plane. Because zombies talk like lobotomized Tarzan, the VO narration helps us get into R’s head. He a pretty astute thinker for being a zombie, ahah. Of course this being a fantasy horror flick, absurdity is to be expected, but even so I feel that Julie is way too soon to be so comfortable with R. I guess I could see it with vampires as they have this cool, sexy vibe about ’em, but flesh-eating zombies are just gross. In any case, R & Julie got on pretty quickly. The scenes of them playing together, listening to records, etc. reminds me of 80s/90s rom-coms. The soundtrack is a hoot, I grew up listening to songs by John Waite (Missing You), Guns N’ Roses (Patience), Bruce Springsteen (Hungry Heart), etc. which gives this movie a retro feel of sort.

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So what happens next is also predictable. The warm relationship he has with Julie somehow revives his humanity and there’s a scene where his heart actually starts beating once more. It’s an interesting twist on how our heart ‘skip a beat’ when we’re in love, ahah. Not only is this change affects R, but this odd transformation ends up spreading to the undead population like a virus. None of this is explained very well in the movie, just like we never really know how they got infected in the first place. Now, some critics call this a Romeo & Juliet story with zombie. Heh, apart from the balcony scene, and that ‘R’ might stand for Romeo with his Julie(t), it’s not exactly an apt comparison.

Thankfully, some of the inconsistencies and clunky dialog didn’t derail the movie. Both Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer (a Brit & Aussie sporting believable American accent) are more than serviceable. In fact, Hoult is a bit better — and ironically more soulful — here than in the abominable Jack & The Giant Slayer. Palmer’s face & lithe figure at times reminds me of Kristen Stewart, but she’s a hundred times more expressive! John Malkovich is entirely wasted here though, he probably could do this role in his sleep, ahah.

I enjoyed this enough but I’m quite puzzled by the high rating (81% Rotten Tomato score?) as overall it’s just ok, but not great. It’s not in the same league as Jonathan Levine‘s previous film 50/50, which I’d think is far more challenging project given the difficult subject matter. I do appreciate the fact that this one is reinvention of a popular horror genre, but I don’t think it’s all that groundbreaking. In terms of a novelty twist in a classic genre, I actually like the vampire thriller Daybreakers a lot more than this one. This one does have some fun moments though, that scene where R told Julie to walk like a zombie so she doesn’t get eaten is hilarious! It’s definitely better than Twilight (but what movie isn’t?) and the humorous tone makes it all the more watchable.

3 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend roundup folks. What did YOU watch this weekend?

TCFF Day 2: 50/50 Mini Review

Directed by Jonathan Levine
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick
Running Time 99 Minutes, Rated R.

From the moment I saw this on the TCFF schedule, I knew I had to see it. I really think Joseph Gordon-Levitt is truly one of the brightest young actors working today, hence my inclusion in this list. I think he’s grown so much as an actor and certainly has come a loooong way since NBC’s Third Rock from the Sun! Anna Kendrick was supposed to hold a Q & A after the film, but unfortunately she had a filming commitment so she had to bail 😦

I was uncertain at first just how could they make cancer funny, but the beauty is in the writing and the way writer Will Reiser and director Jonathan Levine crafted this character-driven dramedy. Levitt is such a natural actor, there’s an effortless-ness to his acting which is wonderful to see. But the supporting cast are great as well, besides Anna Kendrick as Levitt’s young therapist, I also got a kick out of Anjelica Huston’s performance as the overbearing yet endearing mother of Levitt’s character. I can’t deny there are too much crude language for my liking, but at least for the most part it wasn’t in a mean-spirited kind of manner. The theme of friendship between Seth Rogen and Levitt’s characters is what drives the story, and there is a genuine chemistry between the two that was wonderful and heartwarming to watch (yes, despite a lot of Rogen’s questionable behaviors).

I’m going to borrow an excerpt from my friend and fellow MN movie blogger Mitch Hansch from MoviesWithMitch.com whom I had the pleasure of hanging out with before the film started.

Reiser’s 50/50 goes about 70/30 with the comedy to drama ratio.  Going back to the humor-well as often as it does the jokes can come off more defense mechanism than healing process, but ultimately, the dialogue is so funny and so well delivered by it’s talented cast that all is overlooked.

Director Jonathan Levine effectively reels us back in by keeping focus that Adam is feeling all the effects of life threatening cancer.  When Adam is not getting chemotherapy treatment along with a couple of older men that are wonderfully played by Matt Fewer and the great Phillip Baker Hall, he gets counseled by a 24 year-old Dr. Katherine McKay (Anna Kendrick).  Flirtations between the two blur the doctor/patient relationship.

50/50 is a hilarious look at heartbreak that has the performances to back it up.  The odds of you liking this film are a lot higher than it’s title.

MITCHNIFFICANT- a must see in the theatre


Has anybody seen this film? I’d love to hear what you think.