Irresistible takes everything we love and hate about politics at the national level while moving the focus down to the local level.
In this well-meaning comedy, writer/director Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, reteams with former correspondent Steve Carell. Stewart is no stranger to politics so it comes as no surprise that he’s made a satire on the subject. This is the type of film that hits it on the money and this starts at the beginning in the post-debate spin room when Democratic strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) and Republican strategist Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) address the media.
“I lie and you know I lie. I’m actually in this position because of how effectively I lie. Are we clear? Spinning is something you do to disorient people. What a wonderful play we’re putting on. I look forward to lying to you in the future.” — Faith Brewster
When Zimmer sees a YouTube video of Marine hero Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) standing up to Deerlaken mayor Billy Braun (Brent Sexton), he thinks he’s found the future of Democratic politics. Hastings is standing up for undocumented immigrants in the video–Stewart pays homage here to the classic speech in Frank Capra’s classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. No surprise here that both are two old white men. It wouldn’t be a political satire without a race between two old white men. Anyway, Zimmer travels to the small Wisconsin town to recruit Hastings for the mayoral race. Before you know it, rival strategist Brewster also makes her way to town. Deerlaken soon becomes a hot-button battleground with all eyes on the small town.
No stranger to lampooning the media on The Daily Show, Stewart isn’t afraid of taking on the media’s own role in politics. This comes by way of a hard-hitting piece just as the credits start rolling. Make sure to watch the entire credits because there’s an interview with Trevor Potter, the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
For those people working in politics, this film will probably hit too close to home. Regardless, it should prove just as entertaining for the average political activist. It’s not much unlike 2012’s The Campaign from director Jay Roach and producer Adam McKay. The thing with this film is that the focus is more or less on the two strategists and their role in the campaigns. There is less focus on the actual campaigning in as much as there is on what happens behind the scenes. Focus groups, campaign advertisements, and the like. Our nation’s elections have changed so much in the last twenty years alone! Elections as a whole have supported an entire subset of the economy.
Money plays a huge role in politics and this is what Stewart points out in the film. Take a look at huge races right now. How much money is coming from out of state? We see it in the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky and no matter who wins the Democratic primary on June 23, there’s going to be a lot of outside money coming into the race. Meanwhile, you can’t make a political satire without referencing the Koch brothers. Prominent political commentators also make appearances.
Much in the same way that Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Candidate influenced the story, a Preston Sturges film inspired the look. In this case, the influence is 1941 political comedy The Great McGinty. We rarely see a 1.66 aspect ratio in film these days but we are we are.
You won’t miss much from watching this in the comfort of your own home rather than a theater. The only thing you’ll really miss is laughing with an audience. It’s definitely a film that’s worth the $19.99 rental price for 48 hours.
While the focus may be on a smaller town, Irresistible isn’t afraid to call out what’s wrong with the system. Irresistible the best political satire in years!
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Jon Stewart
CAST: Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne