Reviews & More: Of Beginnings and Endings

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is featured in the Netflix documentary "Knock Down the House."

If you’re going to do a comedy about a woman running for president that is even remotely based on reality, then you need to cover a lot of territory and deal with deep-rooted prejudice against a woman being in charge, old white guys running everything, backroom deals, sexual harassment, how a woman’s appearance is unfairly scrutinized, social media and so on. If you’re going to have a romantic comedy about the same subject, then you need to make us care about, root for and totally accept the attraction between the actors who play the hero and heroine. “Long Shot, now in theaters, is a quasi-successful mixture of both, with a snappy, funny script by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah that deals with some of the travails mentioned above—not to mention Charlize Theron as the woman aiming to be POTUS, and … wait for it … Seth Rogen as the romantic interest. Seth Rogen? Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron? Really? Oh, and (spoiler alert) the requisite happy ending has to be credible. In this case, it’s a total fairy tale and not at all believable. When you see the film, you’ll see why. But yes, do see “Long Shot” because it’s chock full of great gags and nasty digs at politicians. It was fun seeing Theron—always elegant and, of course, gorgeous—lighter and sillier than I’ve ever seen her. And comical, clever Seth Rogen, formerly cast as the buffoon or best friend in movies, is now slimmed down and almost believable as her guy. You’ll love Bob Odenkirk as the president (elected because he played a president on TV)—he’s deliciously stupid and smarmy—and the rest of the supporting cast is pitch-perfect, including Andy Serkis as a Rupert Murdoch-type media mogul and Alexander Skarsgård as the prime minister of Canada.

For a non rom-com look at campaigning as an underdog, you can’t do better than the documentary “Knock Down the House” on Netflix. The filmmakers followed four Democratic women with no previous government experience as they worked to unseat incumbents in the 2018 race: Amy Vilela in Las Vegas; Paula Jean Swearingen in West Virginia, Cori Bush in St. Louis and, finally, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, going for the House seat representing the Bronx and Queens in New York. It is sometimes a joy and sometimes heartbreaking to observe the grassroots movements all of them managed to arouse, the small victories and setbacks, and the determination of those working to change the way things in Washington have been run for years. We fall in love with all the candidates: two (Bush and Vilela) have hard outer shells that mask past tragedies, deep anger and fervent commitment; one (Swearingen) is not a great speaker but cares deeply; and Ocasio-Cortez, an articulate, confident 28-year-old with a great smile who has taken the House by storm since the election. We are struck by the honest passion of those who try to make changes, and we wish them well; they are, after all, the future.

Over the weekend, I read a New York Times article in which all its movie reviewers chimed in with what was wrong with “Avengers: Endgame,” currently breaking box office records all over the world. The piece was thoughtful, often insightful, and, of course, well written. And I say to them: Thank you for sharing, but I loved the movie and wouldn’t change a thing. If you are not into the “Avengers” mythology, you will be totally lost so don’t bother. But for those of us who have been there from the beginning, the three-plus hours went by without me once looking at my watch. I enjoyed how it delved more deeply into the characters with terrific back-and-forth banter of old friends and not too much shooting, blowing up and other depictions of violence. I was thrilled as some characters we thought were dead came back to life (another spoiler alert today: time travel). I, for one, left the theater thoroughly satisfied. So there.