The short version, for people “on the go”:
If you are doing a Judd Apatow movie, get Judd Apatow to do it.
Otherwise, you’re going to get Long Shot, a Judd Apatow kind of a movie that, although it’s not, feels instead a Nancy Meyers kind of a movie.
What does a Nancy Meyers kind of a movie feel like?
“Middle-Age Hip”, where an uptight person gets stoned.
Which inevitably happens in Long Shot, a film we saw at the Landmark, a chain of theaters, catering to regular moviegoers’ elderly grandparents.
The aisles are wide to accommodate “Walkers.”
No, they aren’t, but they could be. There is, in fact, a designated “Parking Station” for “Walkers.” How they get to their seats… (Some sentences, you just don’t want to finish. Why did I start it? I probably shouldn’t have.)
Let me backtrack a little, just to make this flagrantly longer. (It’s too early to quit.)
Check the movie listings right now. (I don’t mean “Check the movies listing right now.” I mean, “Check the current movie listings.” In the meantime, keep reading.)
How many comedies are playing? Where I live, it’s one.
That’s a city with one store. You’re in the mood for a comedy and it’s
“I guess we’ll go there.”
So you go.
Unfortunately, Long Shot will not the film you were ardently hoping for. Which should have been evident because it’s playing at the Landmark. The movie’s lead characters may be mid-to-late thirties. The attending audience goes “Oy!” when it sits down.
Long Shot is, sadly, just what you expect:
A young comedy for old people.
A shlubby slacker (Seth Rogen, in a role he now contractually owns) with political principles and a childhood history (a one-way crush) with a female Secretary of State (Charlie Theron, because the women they asked first said, “I already played that.”) reconnect as she’s about to declare her candidacy for president of the United States.
Long Shot – you get it? It’s a “long shot” because it’s a woman aspiring to win the presidency. And it’s also a long shot – a shlubby slacker, landing the hot and powerful Charlize Theron.
Two “long shots” in one. Making it double-y delicious.
Or as the cliché goes, “Or not.”
Exiting the theater, I overheard a guy telling his companion, “I saw the original script for this movie. It was a lot different.”
To me, that’s all Judd Apatow-produced movies. Of which Long Shot is not one but wants to be so it follows the same formula:
You take a viable concept and turn it into a tasteless cartoon.
I think about Bridesmaids – a solid idea, involving “Best Buds”, facing the impending marriage of one of them. The initial premise shows interesting potential.
Judd signs on and immediately “Apatows” it up, retaining the grounding “female buddy” component, then injecting raging diarrhea, triggering serial “dumps” in pristine bridal gowns.
“Relationship movies” are great. But the money’s in pooping in your pants.
Long Shot couldn’t wait to get into the game, thereby making the only mistake worthy of comment. A small point, perhaps, but to “sidelines shmegeggies”, it’s key.
The narrative template is: “Lovable goofball gets ‘serious woman’ to ‘lighten up.’”
For the classic prototype, think Ninotchka. Better yet, watch Ninotchka. A superior experience all around. You can stay home, and see a much better movie.
Anyway, early in Long Shot, you hear the woman who ostensibly needs “lightening up” dropping “F-Bombs” all over the place before encountering the guy who’s supposed to “lighten her up” enough to drop “F-Bombs.” Blowing the arcing trajectory, underlying the concept.
In layman’s language,
The structural pillar has termites.
Assiduous filmmakers would not have done that. But these guys were too eager to look “cool.”
Reliable Rule of Thumb: When you try to be cool – like when you try to be funny – you aren’t.
Do I think I could have done better? I don’t do anything. (Except this.) But I could have told them to hold back on the “language” till after the “hook up.”
They might well have responded, “That’s ‘Old School.’ We’re doing it our way.”
Okay. But from this man’s perspective – possibly suspect ‘cause I watched the movie at the Landmark – they did it their way.
And it was worse.
(Note: If I sound inordinately grumpy today, it’s ‘cause I am protective about comedy. I may be out of the house, but I want the new owners to take care of it.)