In case you didn’t have enough politics in your daily life, here comes Jon Stewart with a movie about it.
“Irresistible” stars Steve Carell as a top-Democratic strategist who takes interest in a small right-wing Wisconsin town’s mayoral race. Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, and Rose Byrne also star as Jon Stewart writes and directs.
It goes without saying, but it’s hard to avoid politics in our modern lives. When you’re not watching the news you’re on Twitter or Facebook, either reading articles that take place in your echo chamber or seeing contrasting views from that old friend you went to high school with pop up on your feed. It’s become a lot for many people to handle, so the idea of watching an entire film that revolves around red-vs-blue may not exactly be the idea of entertainment. And while Stewart’s second directorial outing has some interesting and entertaining takes on our current political climate, it isn’t sharp, funny, or consistent enough to be worthy of a recommendation.
I’ll start with the cast, as they all are solid. Led by quirky and bubbly as usual Steve Carell, and with supporting work from the likes of Will Sasso and Chris Cooper, the characters in this film make the setting feel lived-in and genuine with small town charm, while Carell and Rose Byrne pass as the out-of-touch big city pundits who pander and spew BS for a living.
After spending years running “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart is no stranger to politics. He has even spoken on Capital Hill and called out elected officials, so it makes sense that he would want to make a film that satirizes our increasingly corrupt (but also parody-friendly) political system. And there are more than a few good jokes and bits of commentary here (there is one quick shot of an NRA information booth shutting down when they get approached by an inquisitive group of Black Lives Matter activists that had me chuckling hard). However, for every one of those bits that works, there is an off-putting, tone-deaf, and/or tonally jarring attempt at humor that just does not land at all (Byrne licks pasty crumbs off Carell’s face and I was deadpan staring at the screen).
Stewart clearly watched “The Big Short” and “Vice” in back-to-back viewings, taking inspiration for some on-the-nose analogies and a few cutaways to B-roll footage. Just like Adam McKay, Stewart isn’t shy about which way his politics (and ipso facto, his film) lean, and his message at the end is admirable but somewhat shallow.
“Irresistible” is fine, and if it didn’t have one or two completely random sequences then I would say it may be worth checking out. But it doesn’t really say anything most Americans don’t already know and agree upon (there’s too much big money in politics, the mainstream media is a joke, the flyover states feel disenfranchised), and the comedy isn’t any better than what you can find for free on YouTube. Fans of Carell or Stewart may get their kicks, but the rest of us are better off sitting this race out.
Critics Rating: 5/10