Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is the classic disappointed idealist.
He works for an avant-garde newspaper, where he is celebrated for
his unique blend of wit, sarcasm, invective, and raunch.
Except there's no real market for that, and so Fred finds himself
sitting in front of the editor, being told that the newspaper is being
taken over by the hated media conglomerate.
Yes, the very windmills Fred Flarsky has been tilting at all this
time. He can't believe it.
He feels like his boss has sold him out, so he quits in
frustration. And maybe a
little bit of arrogant self-righteousness, which he cleverly disguises as
social angst. He finds his
best friend, Lance (O'Shea Jackson, Jr.), and they decide to go do the
only rational thing in this situation:
In the course of the evening, Lance and Fred happen to run across
Fred's old baby-sitter, yes, the proverbial girl next door, except
Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) looks like she's happy, successful,
articulate, and powerful, as the Secretary of State, whose further
political ambitions are cloaked in a wide-eyed professionalism.
She's always hard at work, intensely loyal to her boss, the
President (Bob Odenkirk), at least in public.
She's pragmatic enough to be willing to compromise to get what she
wants. But she doesn't realize
how much she's losing sight of who she used to be.
Fred's sudden employment, and his chance encounter with Charlotte,
creates a certain opportunity: be
a speechwriter for her that can “punch up her numbers.”
Help her to appear not only insightful, but humorous.
Bring out the best side of her.
But in order to do that, Fred has to get to know her all over
again. Yes, he's entitled to
the proverbial 20 questions, but that turns into a several-day marathon of
self-revelation, in between stops on a worldwide tour in order to promote
her clean energy initiative.
You guessed it. Fred
and Charlotte begin to develop a chemistry, but it's awkward.
Her advisors never did like him; they think he's lacking in social
graces, and an embarrassment to their well-oiled, and perfectly coiffed,
political machine. But Fred
does find a way to “humanize” Charlotte's tight-lipped public persona.
She's been so busy being the perfect workaholic that she didn't
realize how much she missed having any kind of relaxed conversation.
Not to mention any personal intimacy.
Oh, yes, the sudden intimacy is unexpected, but it also creates
image problems for the campaign. All
things have to be measured by public perception.
And by that harsh, glaring, and unforgiving measure, no real people
stand a chance of meeting the ideal standard.
Yes, it's unconventional, and provocative.
The “adult situations” are ribald and the language is bawdy,
but somehow we root for Fred and Charlotte, because they're going with
what their heart tells them, rather than their public relations advisors.
And we applaud both the vulnerability and the honesty, and
appreciate both the ambiguities and the unevenness.
It feels real.
Charlize Theron for President?