Once one of Hollywood's most bountiful genres, the romantic comedy has seen its fortunes wane in recent years. While cellphones are partly to blame - they instantly solve 90 per cent of the conflicts romcoms throw up – we can also attribute the modern romcom drought to developments in the way society views certain behaviours between the sexes.

Some evolution in the genre was required.

Enter the two unlikely saviours of the romcom: Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. Their new film Long Shot is a very modern take on the romantic comedy, and it's generating some of the most positive advance buzz of either actor's career.

Rogen plays Fred Flarsky, an unemployed political journalist who gets a job punching up speeches for Theron's Charlotte Field, the US Secretary of State considering a run for President.

Advertisement

Charlotte happened to be Fred's babysitter when he was 13, and he had a big crush on her back then. As they travel the world promoting Charlotte's environmental agenda, sparks begin to fly between the unlikely pair.

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen star in Long Shot.
Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen star in Long Shot.

Long Shot is a world away from the Kate Hudson/Jennifer Lopez-style romcoms that previously proliferated. While Theron makes a point of not dissing the romcoms that came before, it's clear that an effort has been made here to contemporise the form.

"I think it's wrong to talk in general terms that every other film has got it wrong," Theron says when she sits down with Rogen to talk to TimeOut. "That's not been the case, but for us, we made a real attempt to try and do something. I couldn't be a part of this film if it didn't reflect something that felt truthful to me, and that was very much how Seth and his production company felt about it, so when we came together it was very clear to me that we both wanted the same thing."

"It's important to have the movies be reflective of the times," adds Rogen. "That the audience feels they're watching something that includes the same types of conversations and debates that they themselves have. Especially when you have two lead characters who are in their late 30s and early 40s - you want people who are that age to feel as though the movie's reflecting their interests and their thoughts."

Although Theron has done comedy before (Arrested Development, Young Adult) she's primarily associated with ass-kicking performances in films like Atomic Blonde and Mad Max: Fury Road. She's utterly hilarious here, but does she think Hollywood still has narrow ideas of women and comedy?

"Yeah, I guess. Look, I'm the wrong person to ask because my theory in life is 'f*** that'. And I'm lucky that I was raised by a mother who taught me to say 'f*** that' and I hopefully am raising children who say 'f*** that', and I hang out with other girls who feel like that. We have to take responsibility for the people we want to be in this world, it is our job to not wait for somebody to tell us who we are."

Charlize Theron plays one of the most powerful women in the world in Long Shot.
Charlize Theron plays one of the most powerful women in the world in Long Shot.

Theron plays one of the most powerful women in the world in Long Shot, and the film plays with the idea that men are intimidated by powerful women.

"I do think there's some truth to that, for sure," says Theron. "I can pull from my own personal experiences. I've definitely been in relationships where if I'd made myself a little smaller, and if I wasn't that successful, then my relationship would be better. But that I don't think is a general notion of how I feel about men."

"I think men are afraid of everything that is more powerful than they are," adds Rogen. "Be it another man or especially a woman, yeah. Men are just afraid."

Even factoring in Charlotte's position, Long Shot contains a lot of political humour. The last time a Seth Rogen comedy wandered into geo-politics - in 2014's North Korea-mocking The Interview - it spurred an international crisis when North Korea took offence and hacked the studio who made the film. Safety concerns saw the theatrical release cancelled, although that decision was later reversed when things calmed down.

When TimeOut asks him how that experience informed the making of Long Shot (which shares a screenwriter with The Interview), Rogen places his head on the table in (almost) mock despair, and Theron pats him reassuringly.

"What we learned is when you try to be controversial, it can work," says Rogen, clearly still wary from the incident. "And how you should not try to be controversial sometimes. The philosophy with this movie was to not be polarising or rile anyone, but instead make something that could be therapeutic, maybe. That made the audience feel like they were watching something that was born of the world that they live in, in a way that they could just enjoy it and laugh at it and not be afraid I was gonna get them bombed on a nuclear level."

picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>

LOWDOWN:
Who: Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen
What: Long Shot
When: In cinemas next Thursday