Irresistible (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Starring Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, Will Sasso, CJ Wilson, Brent Sexton, Alan Aisenberg, Debra Messing, Christian Adam, Will McLaughlin, Eve Gordon, Andrea Frankle, Jason Davis, Jason Kirkpatrick, Charles Green, Kevin Maier and Tom Key.
Screenplay by Jon Stewart.
Directed by Jon Stewart.
Distributed by Focus Features. 102 minutes. Rated.
In 2013, Jon Stewart, then host and head writer on Comedy Central’s popular political comic series The Daily Show, announced he was going to take a 12-week hiatus from the show. The reason for the break was that Stewart wanted to write and direct a movie called Rosewater.
The film itself was a bit of a surprise for this New Jersey-born former stand-up comedian and political pundit. It told the harrowing true story of an Iranian-born journalist who was back in his native country covering political unrest and potential revolution, only to be arrested as a spy, held, and tortured for months.
Certainly, it was not a funny story, but it was one Stewart had a major connection to. He knew the journalist – Maziar Bahari – in fact, the arrest was connected to a skit that Bahari did for The Daily Show. It was a labor of love for Stewart.
The next year the movie came out – and while it was not a huge hit, Stewart started talking about how much he enjoyed filmmaking. Not even a year later, Stewart announced that he was leaving The Daily Show because he was tired of the grind of a TV series and he wanted to focus on his film work.
That was 2015. In the years since then, Stewart has been around, sort of; appearing on other people’s shows as comic relief or a talking head, working on philanthropic concerns like being a tireless advocate for 9/11 first responders. However, that follow-up movie still hadn’t come.
Until now. Irresistible is much more like what we would have expected from Stewart than Rosewater. It is a cutting dark comedy about politics and campaigning, red America vs. blue America, and the corruption, out-of-touch values, and insane spending of political campaigning.
Irresistible is timed perfectly for the lead in to 2020 election season – in fact, that may have been Stewart’s plan, to hold it for when voting was on people’s minds. At least it would have been well-timed if not for the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has closed most of the theaters and Irresistible must debut On Demand and streaming release.
Irresistible is a mostly enjoyable farce – not as surprising a film choice as Rosewater was, but a smart and funny look at politics. At least until the last ten minutes, when it becomes overly preachy and kind of annoying. And this is coming from someone who for the most part agrees with Stewart’s point of view.
However, the first hour and a half of the film mostly makes up for the disappointing ending.
Basically, it is the story of big-time politics coming descending on a small-time mayor’s race in the middle of the heartland.
Stewart reunites with his former Daily Show co-star Steve Carell in this film. Carell plays top Democrat consultant Gary Zimmer, who is completely burnt out on the political game – he was one of the top people in the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign.
He regains his political fire when he is shown a viral video of a small-town Wisconsin council meeting in which a retired Colonel, Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), passionately speaks about the importance of community and cooperation. It turns out that the town the Colonel lives in is about to have a mayoral race – one that the Democrats haven’t won in decades.
Zimmer feels that Col. Hastings can be the ideal candidate. He’s a Marine, smart, tough, pragmatic, home-spun, empathetic, gruff and hard working. Even though the former Colonel had never considered running for office, Zimmer thinks he may be a new kind of Democrat that will win in the fly-over states.
Zimmer touches down in the Wisconsin town, trying not to stand out and being even more conspicuous for his awkward attempts to fit in. His K Street mindset is at odds with the State Route world of the town, but still he tries to turn this little local election into a major national event.
His nemesis is Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), a shamelessly partisan Republican campaign manager – picture Kellyanne Conway if she was a bit younger, single, and attractive. She is an enthusiastic proponent of “alternative reality.” She even brazenly claims in a TV interview that she was born in the town, even though every voter in the election knows that it was a blatant untruth. But she doesn’t care, she lies as naturally as she breathes.
The Republicans have sent Faith to take over the campaign for the current mayor, who was a lock to win until Gary and the Colonel started gaining attention. What follows is a love/hate (more like hate/hate) battle over the lives and minds of the people of this town by Washington insiders who really don’t get the place.
Like I said earlier, it’s funny stuff, until it’s not. However, if Stewart uses his film to get on a soap box in the last 10 minutes, the rest of it is good stuff. So, watch it, enjoy, just be ready to wade through a little heavy-handed commentary in the end.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2020 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 26, 2020.
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