To write that I am extremely disappointed in writer/director Jon Stewart’s latest effort, IRRESISTIBLE, a political “comedy”, is an understatement. First, and foremost, it is certainly not much of a comedy. I am sure neither David nor I laughed out loud once.
But that alone isn’t enough to condemn a movie. As I have often written though, it is about the writing --- and in this, Stewart has failed miserably. His sophomoric approach to exposing the sins of campaign financing and other egregious ploys used to win an election at any cost, including the one Stewart employs here --- the race for mayor in a small Wisconsin town --- is ultimately insulting considering the greater problems we are currently facing.
Democratic political strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell), sees a video of retired Marine Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) speaking at his hometown council meeting in Deerlaken, Wisconsin and decides Hastings needs to run for mayor. He would be running as a Democrat against the current Republican, Mayor Braun (Brent Sexton).
What ensues is one hotshot politico, Gary --- who Hastings insists run his campaign --- against another, as Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) steps in on the Republican side. It all devolves into the typical political machinations, none of which are remotely funny.
The biggest complaint I have regarding IRRESISTIBLE is the abject waste of talent, especially Cooper. This is an actor who has proven his worth many times over and is quite capable of shining in a comedy. But as Hastings, he’s given so little to do, and it’s truly a shame.
Carell and Byrne are good enough, but when the script is lacking, there is only so much they can do to save the film. The one bright spot in IRRESISTIBLE is Mackenzie Davis who plays Col. Hastings’ daughter, Diana. She shines as the smart, tough but kind answer to Gary’s political bull. At least Stewart had the good sense not to write an ending which included Diana and Gary ending up together, though Gary does give it his best shot.
IRRESISTIBLE does offer up a plot twist that I think most will not see coming. Unfortunately, it’s too little --- and stupid. Yes, small towns in America are getting screwed over left and right, but I don’t think IRRESISTIBLE is going to change any of that.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!
Writer/director Jon Stewart has never tried to hide his political beliefs, so it appears he arrived at the title for his new movie IRRESISTIBLE because “resist” appears in the middle of it. And at the closing credits, he highlights “resist” in bold red letters in the middle of said title.
This is not an obvious jab at the current administration in Washington, but at least one interpretation of “resist” refers to not going along with Trumpian “policies”. That’s as close as Stewart gets in IRRESISTIBLE to advocating anti-Trump sentiment.
His film is actually a farce about political fundraising, and the abuses therein. Casting Steve Carell as a campaign guru certainly makes the movie entertaining, at least in the first half. As Gary Zimmer, Carell’s character ends up marketing and promoting Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) for mayor of a small Wisconsin town called Deerlaken to unseat the incumbent Mayor Braun (Brent Sexton), a staunch conservative.
Stewart injects small town humor when the entire citizenry knows Gary by the next morning after arriving late at night. Zimmer hires a small crew to do things like solicit votes via phone calls --- they initially make calls to Gary’s internal staff list --- and place “I Back Jack” signs in front lawns. In rebuttal, the Mayor Braun faction puts up a billboard with a semicolon after Braun’s name. Silly but amusing.
The competition heats up when Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) comes to town to head up Braun’s re-election efforts. She and Zimmer have a long-running history opposing each other in these endeavors, so that becomes a recurring thread in the movie’s arc.
The bottom line is that IRRESISTIBLE is not a hilarious comedy by any stretch. When Hastings is flown to D.C. to make a case for campaign contributions to an exclusive group of Zimmer’s wealthy contacts, his brief talk is a fumbling, mumbling mess, but somehow he convinces these people of his value and manages to raise millions for his mayoral run.
IRRESISTIBLE is more of a tongue-in-cheek satire revealing a surprise twist at the end that is choreographed expertly by Stewart and his crew. Although Jeanne did not care for this story at all, I can recommend it if only to watch at home.
Opinion: Mild Wait for DVD