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In a dying Wisconsin town that just lost an army base and its public school funding, an everyman goes viral after delivering a heartrending speech. He catches the attention of a jaded DC political consultant fresh off the Hillary campaign, who is searching for a new savior to become the voice of the swing states in this Frank Capra-light political satire from Jon Stewart.
Steve Carell stars as Gary Zimmer, a top Democratic consultant, and Rose Byrne (Physical, Mrs. America) plays his Fox News-worthy counterpart. Chris Cooper (Homecoming, Adaptation) stars as the local hero, and you’ll recognize Mackenzie Davis from Station Eleven and Halt and Catch Fire. Written and directed by The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart (The Problem with Jon Stewart).
In the wake of the midterm elections, after months of theatrics and record-breaking campaign spending, Irresistible works as an escape watch that sets out to do what Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show did best at its height: use broad comedy, satire, and stars to get at the bigger truths behind our fundamental problems.
It also serves up a new hero, the kind many campaign strategists — and voters — wish they could find as they gear up for the next big showdown. Oscar-winner Chris Cooper plays a local farmer who stands up to the town’s leaders in defense of immigrants. He doesn’t belong to any political party – not yet anyways – which makes him The Real Deal. “He’s Bill Clinton with impulse control. A Bernie Sanders who goes to church,” Carell’s Gary Zimmer says to a journalist.
As the rival political strategists and journalists pile into the tiny town, and data scientists try and run numbers (on statistically insignificant sample sizes), the joke is on “the coastal elites,” the media, and the political-industrial complex.
Of course, it’s also on all of us. At the center of it all is the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allows for corporations to contribute as much as they want to political campaigns. It’s the underpinning of a more provocative story that begins to take shape, one with a twist you likely won’t see coming.
The film asks questions that we should all be asking – and acting upon – especially if you stick around for the end credits, in which you’ll hear Stewart interview the former FEC chair, who drives home the plausibility of the story we just smirked along to.
You might find yourself wishing Stewart would make a sequel that shows exactly how the characters go about upending what they have just exposed.
A very Steve Carell send-up that sometimes hovers near documentary territory, Irresistible works as an entertaining crash course on local political campaigns while doubling as a not exactly newsworthy expose on the dysfunctions of the “election economy.” Stick around for the ending and the credits that follow it.
It takes aim at both parties and their operatives, so it’s not just for the Blue States. Carell fans, anyone missing Jon Stewart, and political junkies will enjoy it most, but it’s broad enough to appeal to anyone in need of a more comedic take to process election hangovers.
Critics did not love the film, overall. But it parodies the media — left and right — and as many noted, it seems stuck in pre-Trump times and ignores bigger problems (that many other media outlets have previously done hard work to expose).
Where to find it: Free on Freevee
What to watch after: Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe