Jon Stewart’s second film, another foray into politics is hardly as effective as his earlier Rosewater which brought to life the struggles of an Iran-born Canadian reporter for the BBC in his land during and after an election to unseat an incumbent.
Irresistible goes for topicality in stirring up small-town Midwest life in touching on elements covered by the likes of Frank Capra even as other films with Robert Redford and Michael J. Fox in lead roles come to mind. Before the writer/director does a bit of M. Night Shymalan to shake it up before it all wraps up.
Here, a comedic send-up is the order of business for the former Daily Show host now having his former collaborator there Steve Carell as crestfallen Democratic National Campaign strategist Gary Limmer. Life is about to change for Gary in November 2016 after toiling for Hillary Clinton in the quaint town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin through a retired officer and farmer Col. Jack Hasting (Chris Cooper).
A viral video of a town hall meeting about undocumented workers gets Gary’s juices flowing again after failing to his ruthless Republican counterpart Faith Brewester, done with a deadpan flintiness by Rose Byrne. The candor of Jack would be ideal versus the current Mayor Billy Braun (Brent Sexton), and it will take a little persuasion from Jack’s daughter Diana (Mackenzie Davis of Tully) that sets the main conflict in motion. Against the energy and charisma of Gary is Faith rising with her money and power for Republicans for Mayor Braun.
The supporting cast includes Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne as dueling pollsters, as well as noteworthy turns by Will Sasso and Debra Messing. But, there’s really nothing much distinctive, solid, or funny for that matter. Carell might be channeling his Michael from The Office at times, but to no avail. And, there’s the lack of spark with him and Byrne who does what she can with her character even when the proceeding becoming pretty lame before a superficially glowing denouement.
The Hut earlier this year looked at Red/Blue State divide with little verve or insight, and Stewart’s take with a silly protagonist might have an occasional gag that sticks and an air of prescience. In its poky quaintness Irresistible is more of a static and insulting ticket back into a game that earns very few swing votes with its heart and a better place than its mind.