• 11 Jul - 17 Jul, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Irresistible is the second film written and directed by Jon Stewart, but unlike the first, the deadly serious and surprisingly accomplished true-life Iranian prison drama Rosewater this one comes straight out of Stewart’s satirical-political wheelhouse. Set shortly after the 2016 presidential election, it’s a close-to-the-bone tall tale – slightly exaggerated but still basically plausible – of what happens when America’s two ruling political parties descend upon the rural heartland of Deerlaken, Wisconsin, to take over a small-town election for mayor.

At the center of the movie is a cynical sharpie of a campaign consultant, Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell), who combines the philosophy of a liberal, the high-maintenance fussiness of an East Coast lifestyle elitist, and the do-what-it-takes amorality of a corporate sociopath. He’s just coming off his time as “the grand consigliere” of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid, and like most Democrats he’s in a slight state of shock at Donald Trump’s victory. But he’s enough of an image-politics brat to realise that his party, in order to regain power, needs a new kind of electoral star.

He thinks he spies that candidate when he catches a viral YouTube video of Col. Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) who stands up at a town-council meeting and accuses the mayor of Deerlaken of screwing over the local immigrant community. So he convinces Jack to run for mayor – and he marshals major party resources to back him, all with the hope of turning the national spotlight on a new brand of Democratic winner.

Near the end, there’s a big twist that gives everyone their just desserts and the American campaign system a kick in the pants. Stewart’s message: Our politics is being toxified – strangled – by money. And who would disagree? Yet you could also look at the politics of today and say that it’s not that simple – that the Republicans have become the party of authoritarianism, and that the Democrats are undergoing an identity crisis of values that extends far beyond the corruptions of money. Irresistible scores points yet feels behind the curve. You wish it were a bold satirical bulletin, or maybe just Stewart’s pricelessly amusing version of a Christopher Guest movie. Instead, the film is a lot like a politician: It makes a big show of leading the viewer, but without rocking the boat.

– Compilation