Jon Stewart spent sixteen years poking fun at politics and politicians on The Daily Show. In the his new movie comedy Irresistible, Stewart, who wrote and directed, is back ridiculing the American political process and the media world it inhabits.
The film’s protagonist is Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell), a Democratic political consultant who is smarting from his party’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election. In his D.C. office, one of his staffers shows him a video of ex-Marine farmer Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) speaking up for the little guy at a town council meeting in flyover country.
Zimmer is charmed and heads out to the fictional town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin to find Hastings and convince him to run for mayor as a Democrat against the incumbent Republican. Hastings agrees to run if Zimmer will guide the campaign.
When word gets out that this big-time politico has swooped in from Washington with his support team, the Republicans respond by sending in one of their heavy hitter consultants, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), who has the look and demeanor of Kellyanne Conway.
Zimmer and Brewster are longtime rivals whose contentious relationship is charged with an underlying sexual tension. (Not unlike the 2015 movie Our Brand Is Crisis in which Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton played rival political consultants working on a campaign in Bolivia. They, too, had strong sexual energy bubbling under their rivalry.)
Zimmer also has his eye on Diana Hastings (Mackenzie Davis), Jack’s daughter, who is first seen with her hand inside a cow’s, um, nether regions.
Stewart’s targets in the movie include political fundraising, political TV ads—there’s one in the film that’s similar to a memorable Eric Greitens ad from his 2016 Missouri gubernatorial campaign—and cable TV news.
The political consultant overkill depicted in Irresistible has happened frequently around the U.S. in recent years, mainly in congressional races ripe for flipping from one party to the other. The money spent on these campaigns often reaches into the tens of millions.
Is the film funny? Yes. There are solid laughs throughout but the story is grounded enough that it is not a “laugh riot.” (If you want a political laugh riot, I recommend the 2012 film The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.)
Stewart shows proper respect for citizens of the heartland in this film. The small town folks in Deerlaken are not portrayed as absolute yokels and that’s refreshing. (The movie was actually shot in Rockmart, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta.) And, despite Stewart’s liberal leanings, the film does not preach political doctrine. You don’t have to be a Democrat to enjoy it.
Irresistible is rated R for language and sexual references. No nudity or violence.
Irresistible will be available via Premium Video On Demand on Friday, June 26.