Movie Information

A brilliant payoff can’t quite make up for an uneven buildup in Jon Stewart’s political satire.
Genre: Comedy
Director: Jon Stewart
Starring: Steve Carell, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis
Rated: R

A brilliant payoff can’t quite make up for an uneven buildup in Jon Stewart’s Irresistible.

Essentially a feature-length extension of his “The Daily Show” schtick, the writer/director’s first film since his 2014 thriller Rosewater is packed with biting political humor and witty commentary on the Washington elite.

The conduit for this quasi-satirical attack is Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell), a Democratic strategist still reeling from the 2016 presidential election, who thinks he’s found his ticket to redemption after a video of Col. Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) championing core American values at a Deerlaken, Wis., community meeting goes viral.

In town to recruit Jack to run for mayor, Gary’s condescending attempts to fit in elicit decent chuckles at the expense of his cluelessness, but his faux sincerity doesn’t escape Deerlaken’s nevertheless welcoming residents.

Gary’s efforts soon attract the attention of his caustic rival — and sometimes lover — Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), who swoops in to back the conservative incumbent, Mayor Braun (Brent Sexton, Flightplan), turning this tiny election in the middle of nowhere into a fairly amusing arms race.

While the jokes at campaign headquarters land somewhat inconsistently, they’re far more successful than Stewart’s attempts at character development, particularly anything involving Jack’s daughter Diane (Mackenzie Davis). Though Stewart never lingers on the human interest side long enough to sink the film, the more outlandish and flat-out fantastic the political gag — especially Gary and Faith telling reporters in their respective spin rooms that they’re lying to them — the better.

On the road to election day, Stewart has fun setting up Republicans as ridiculous straw-man villains but is just as hard on the Democrats and the ends they go to win, suggesting a thoroughly broken political system.

While that revelation may not exactly be shocking, its generally funny packaging in Irresistible has the potential to start conversations that otherwise might go unspoken, especially during this current time of great unrest.

Available to rent via Amazon Video, Apple and other streaming services

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA).

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.