“It’s good to hear from Jon Stewart again.” That was the main thought running through my head while watching Irresistible. Stewart has been essentially MIA ever since leaving the Daily Show in 2015. While Trevor Noah and John Oliver have both done a great job at picking up where he off, the world needs Stewart’s comedy and commentary now more than ever. Honestly, the past four years would’ve been a lot easier to endure if Stewart was still giving his two cents daily. Irresistible makes up for lost time with Stewart’s signature wit, humor, and insight.
Steve Carell stars as Gary Zimmer, a Democratic political strategist who’s left humiliated after Hillary Clinton loses the 2016 presidential election. Gary seeks redemption in a small Wisconsin town where he urges war veteran Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) to run for mayor as a Democrat. While the town is largely conservative, Gary believes that Jack can serve as a stepping stone between the far-left and far-right. What starts as a modest election soon spirals into a media circus when Gary’s rival Faith (Rose Byrne) joins forces with the sitting mayor. As the campaign grows bigger, Gary grows accustomed to small-time life, although the film doesn’t build to the heartwarming resolution you may expect.
At its best, Irresistible is a biting satire about everything that’s wrong with modern politics, namely the almighty dollar. Cooper has an especially strong scene where Jack must win over a room full of potential donors. Jack finds himself torn in half, as he needs their money to get elected, but the fact that he needs to ask for large handouts is precisely why the system is broken. While Stewart tends to lean more towards the left, neither political party is safe in Irresistible. Stewart obverses how both parties are stuck in their ways and until at least one of them evolves, the country will only repeat its vicious cycles. Many politicians know this, but few if any dare to say it.
As engaging as the political commentary is, Irresistible stumbles whenever it tries to be a romantic comedy. There’s a love triangle between Gary, Faith, and Jack’s daughter Diana (Mackenzie Davis). Gary also has something of a flirtation with a local pastry shop owner, which I guess technically makes this a love square. Gary’s romantic chemistry with each woman falls rather flat. His relationship with Faith is toxic, Diana clearly doesn’t reciprocate, and Gary seems more attracted to the pastries than the woman serving them. The romance fortunately doesn’t take center stage, but these scenes stick out like a sore thumb whenever they do surface.
For many, it’s the ending that will either make or break Irresistible. Without going into major spoiler territory, there’s a twist that some will write off as completely preposterous. If you stay through the end credits, Stewart does bring in a professional who explains how this twist could happen. Even then, however, it kind of feels like a stretch. For my money, the ending works since it keeps in tune with what Stewart is trying to get across. Like any political campaign, Irresistible isn’t without its rocky moments. For its wisdom, charm, and cast, though, the film is ultimately hard to resist.
Available on-demand starting June 26.