Irresistible review: Jon Stewart’s second film as director

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Steve Carell and Rose Byrne lead Irresistible, the second movie from Jon Stewart as writer/director – here’s our review.

With everything happening in the world, an American presidential election this November may not yet be high on everybody’s agenda – with the exception of the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. However, cast your mind back four years and you’ll remember what happened when the US chose its current leader. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton looked set for The White House – but it didn’t happen.

The aftermath of that defeat is the starting point for Irresistible, Jon Stewart’s second film as writer/director and he’s on his favourite stomping ground, political satire, with the American electoral system at the top of a long list of targets.

Democratic political strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) is left floundering after the 2016 result and is looking for a new campaign when he sees a video of retired Marine Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), a farmer in the Midwest, taking on the might of the local council. With a mayoral election on the way, Zimmer persuades Hastings to run against the Republican incumbent, in the hope of launching him onto the wider political stage. But he’s up against two formidable opponents: nemesis Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), leading the opposition campaign, and a local community more than wise to his Washington ways.

The mouth-watering Carell/Stewart partnership was originally destined for American cinemas, but has made the move online. It sets out its stall in typical Stewart style – brisk, pithy and razor sharp. There are targets a-plenty – the irritations of Google, the decline of the Midwestern economy, the city slicker in the small town and the reactions of the locals…. And Carell’s interactions with the townsfolk are especially entertaining: he’s a Local Hero style fish out of water and, come the day of the campaign launch, his efforts to get cows to stand in the right place for the TV cameras are pure comedy joy.

The first two-thirds charge along, delivering plenty of laughs and scoring satirical point after point. Carell skilfully relishes his political machinations while staying likeable, and you’d seriously consider voting for Cooper’s candidate. But there are bumps along the campaign trail.

While sporadically funny together, Byrne and Carell never really gel and their sparring leads nowhere. And, by the time the final act comes along, the film has run out of steam so that the ending simply doesn’t satisfy and is almost unworthy of what’s gone before. Worse still, in case we haven’t understood what we’ve been watching, the captions at the end make it all crystal clear. Perhaps the choice of title was over-ambitious.

While the film promises much, and delivers a lot, it struggles to make it over the finishing line and the final feeling is sadly flat. Sound familiar?


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