There's a sense of disappointment in watching "Irresistible," for what's depicted in the film, but mainly because so many of us expect so much more from Jon Stewart. For years, Stewart became a beacon of common sense and truth as the host of The Daily Show, and his voice is one that is sorely missed in today's polarizing and often confusing political landscape. So while his newest film does include several shards of sharp wit and satire, it doesn't quite hit as hard as we may have wanted, or expected it to.
Stewart avoids targeting the low-hanging fruit that is our current federal administration, and instead sets his film in SmallTown, USA, a place that pundits would commonly call "fly-over country." Gary Zimmer (played by Stewart's old The Daily Show chum, Steve Carell) is a Democratic Campaign Consultant who tries to help ex-Marine and current farmer, Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) win a local mayoral election on the Democratic ticket. Trying to gain this grassroots support, they figure, will grow their chances of winning the state in upcoming "big" state and federal election cycles. Zimmer's presence in the town brings with it national media attention, and so to counter, the Republicans send in their version of Zimmer, the spin-queen Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), to make sure her rival doesn't gain the foothold he's seeking. for his party.
Setting the story in a place like this, away from Washington D.C. and The White House, does feel a bit refreshing for a political satire. Stewart takes more than a few jabs at "the media" and his targets aren't just the GOP, but the entirety of out political system. With somewhat of an implausible "twist" ending, Stewart's film is revealed to be a liberal fantasy of sorts, as to how "the good guys" might be able to take advantage of a broken and corrupt system, instead of always allowing the immoral to "win."
Stewart's aim is spotty at best, and while "Irresistible" doesn't quite live up to its name, I did feel like there was enough here to make viewers think, and as always Stewart's viewpoint comes at the material from unexpected angles. The film is at its most scathing when the screen is occupied by Carell and Byrne together, as these scenes act as razor-sharp satire...you get what Stewart is trying to say during these moments. The rest of the film however, feels soft and unfocused, and too often feels like a road we've all already been on too many times before.
While far from perfect - and a bit of a letdown if you've been waiting for Stewart to return to form - "Irresistible" includes just enough charm to make it watchable, if not essential.
Genre: Comedy, Drama.
Run Time: 1 hour 41 minutes.
Starring: Steve Carell, Chris Cooper, Rose Byrne, Brent Sexton, Will Sasso, Topher Grace.
Written and Directed by Jon Stewart ("Rosewater").
"Irresistible" is available on streaming platforms beginning Friday, June 26th, 2020.
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