Written and directed by American political commentator and satirist Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show fame), Irresistible examines the crazy circus that is the US election system.
It's only Stewart's second time in the director's chair after his critically-well-received debut, Rosewater. Unfortunately, lightning hasn't struck twice, and what begins as a whip-smart political commentary descends into smugness and unapologetically spans a rather contrived narrative arc.
The film follows Democratic electioneering strategist Gary (Steve Carell), who heads into small-town America on a recruitment drive after seeing an inspirational speech from town-hall upstart Jack (played by Chris Cooper).
Much to Gary's glee, Jack's rural brand of rhetoric is surprisingly sympathetic to the Democrat cause and Gary is eager to convince him to run for local mayor, thereby giving the Democrats an unsuspecting voice deep inside the Republican camp... a Trojan Donkey, if you will.
It's meaty political subject matter and something I would've expected Stewart, with his political savvy and witty repartee, to be all over like a Trump tanning booth. Yet, given the opportunities for satirical complexities, Irresistible is disappointingly plain.
Carell is typically Carellesque in his humorous delivery, and the ever-reliable Chris Cooper competently negotiates some fairly straightforward dialogue. But none of the film's cast (Rose Byrne and MacKenzie Davis included) is stretched to anywhere near their talented boundaries, which speaks volumes to Stewart's limited experience as a director.
Yes, there are some highlights, most notably the film's final subversive comment on financial involvement in the US election process, but digging beneath the film's satirical surface reveals an unsavoury whiff of questionable virtues—from the creepy romantic undertones between Gary and Jack's daughter (who is half his age) to the tired city-slicker routine, which comes across as condescending to small-town America and whose inhabitants are depicted as simple but warm-hearted people.
Shame, because despite Irresistible's clumsy handling there is a well-meaning film that has some valid points to make on the financially warped US electoral system.
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Cast: Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper
Director: Jon Stewart
Running time: 104 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language & sexual references)
Verdict: Easy to resist.