The first weekend is almost always about the marketing and never about the quality (or lack of). The second and third weekends tell the tale. Don’t tell me about this damn film — I tried to watch it but it quickly began to eat my insides out. It was secreting poison gas. I could only make it to the 80-minute mark.
Woody Allen used to play wimpy guys like Casey Davies, except the temporary karate class remedy would be dispensed with in a first-act montage and then Allen would move on to the actual story. Now “the karate class” is the whole thing. You can feel the thin-ness, the micro-focus.
Directed and written by Riley Stearns, The Art of Self-Defense (Bleecker Street, 6.21) costars Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola and Imogen Poots. No interest, zip, forget it. That look of intimidation of Eisenberg’s face = later.
The slogan on those Long Shot posters reads “unlikely but not impossible.” Obviously the marketers behind this political-minded Seth Rogen-Charlize Theron romantic comedy (Lionsgate, 5.3) know they have a tough sell on their hands.
Theron plays Charlotte Field, a 40ish Secretary of State planning a run for the White House, and Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, a political journalist whom Theron hires to be her speechwriter, in part because she babysat for him “20 years earlier,” according to one review.
You think? In real life Rogen is 37 going on 55. He didn’t need a babysitter when he was 17 — Theron more likely babysat him 25 or 30 years ago, when he was 12 or 7. A quarter century ago Theron was 18 — a perfect babysitting age.
Long Shot screened last night at South by Southwest. Sight unseen, Hollywood Elsewhere agrees with Peter Debruge’s skepticism about this bizarre romantic pairing.
Debruge: “There are two high-concept male fantasies operating here: There’s the one in which a man-child finally gets to seduce the sexy babysitter, interwoven with another about the chances that the country’s most gorgeous/powerful woman — ‘I dreamed I was president in my Maidenform bra’ — might risk it all to be with someone like Flarsky.
“The odds? The movie’s new title says it all.
“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.
“Granted, society’s notion of what kind of romances are deemed acceptable is shifting awfully fast, so I could be wrong about this.. [But] there’s an alarming disconnect [in] whatever unconventional sex appeal Field sees in [Flarsky].
“If the sexes were reversed, Rogen would be the dumpy girl with curly hair and glasses waiting for his mid-movie makeover. But because Flarsky’s a dude, he doesn’t have to change at all; it’s Field who has to make all the concessions to be with him — which would surely be a point of contention in a properly engaged satire.”