It would be easy to write Long Shot off as another dorky-guy-gets-hot-girl male fantasy. On paper, that's exactly what it looks like: Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a talented but unemployed investigative journalist. Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is a capable but strait-laced secretary of state looking for a punchy speechwriter to help her presidential campaign. But with the help of a hilarious script and sizzling chemistry, it works. Director Jonathan Levine and team have crafted a slightly altered version of our reality: The supporting cast consists of an idiotic U.S. president (Bob Odenkirk) who harbors nostalgia for his past career as a TV star, a blandly handsome Canadian prime minister (Alexander Skarsgård) and a corrupt head of a conservative broadcasting company (Andy Serkis). The romance is believable in the semi-absurd world of the movie and, miraculously, almost real-life believable. Fred is goofy and passionate; his biggest character flaw is that he sticks too rigidly to his morals, which is a compelling foil for Charlotte's compromising diplomacy. There are definitely some pacing problems—and a muddled message about centrism that could've been elaborated on or dropped—but if the ultimate intention of a romcom is to make you both laugh and swoon, then Long Shot is right on target. R. MIA VICINO. Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Laurelhurst, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division Street, Evergreen, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Sherwood, Tigard, Scappoose Cinema 7, St. Johns Pub and Theater, Studio One, Vancouver.
Dogman, the latest effort from director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah), concerns an Italian dog groomer and sitter named Marcello (Marcello Fonte) and the various entanglements he finds himself in after running afoul of some neighborhood toughs. Garrone conjures beautiful imagery out of the stark setting of a poor, hardscrabble coastal town that's very—you'll forgive my use of the phrase—dog eat dog. The diminutive Marcello, who cares deeply for the pups in his charge and his young daughter, is far too pure of heart for his surroundings and soon finds himself looking at a prison term because of the mistakes of his friend Simoncino (Edoardo Pesce), a brutish, thieving cokehead who does whatever he wants whenever he wants. Garrone directs with a painter's eye, and although Dogman suffers from a few plot holes, it is a visually gorgeous character study that shows you can kick a dog only so many times before he bites back—even if he's the runt of the litter. NR. DONOVAN FARLEY. Living Room.
After David Horvath drew a creature named Wage with an orange body and a giant head, his future business partner and wife, Sun-Min Kim, sewed a doll inspired by the picture and voila! The world's first UglyDoll was born. Horvath and Kim's idea—toys that were cutely monstrous, rather than just cute—has endured, resulting in an iconic toy line. Yet UglyDolls, a CGI-animated children's musical directed by Kelly Asbury (Gnomeo & Juliet, Shrek 2), smothers the appeal of the original creation. The film takes us to Uglyville, a haven where a ferociously optimistic UglyDoll named Moxy (voiced by Kelly Clarkson) dreams of being owned by a child. The only problem is that Lou (Nick Jonas), a tyrannical humanoid doll, stands in her way. Moxy's journey revolves around her discovery that "it's our differences that make us shine." That's a nice message for the kids in the audience, but the appeal of UglyDolls has always been that they look refreshingly not nice. The film may insist that its characters let their "freak flags fly," but it doubles down on safeness and cuddliness, the very things that Kim and Horvath rebelled against when they created Wage. PG. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, Cascade, Cinema 99, City Center, Division, Evergreen, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Sherwood, Tigard, Scappoose Cinema 7, Vancouver.