Saturday, June 27, 2020

VOD film review: Irresistible

Directed & written by Jon Stewart

ChinoKino score: C-

Review by Allan Tong

One of America's finest political satirists unleashes his take on the U.S. election machine months before the presidential vote. However, in Irresistible, Jon Stewart stays behind the camera. Instead, he's crafted a tale about a cynical Democrat political consultant (Steve Carell) who convinces a retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) to run for mayor in a small Wisconsin town. The Dems are up against a well-entrenched Republican mayor in this sleepy, agricultural villa, the kind of place where everybody knows your name. Naturally, the Republicans fly in their own city slicker consultant (Rose Byrne) to do battle in what becomes a symbolic battle between Red and Blue, and the soul of America.

Now, I admire Stewart and Carell and had high hopes for Irresistible, but the movie suffers too many shortcomings. Basically, Stewart's satirical eye is missing or it's been drastically tamed. In fact, sometimes you wonder if this is a drama or a comedy, because the approach is so low-key. This comedy lacks Stewart's scathing hyperbole and wit and comes off as, well, straight. Is Stewart lampooning Carell or any of the urban hotshots who look down on the smalltown locals? Yes, he's castigating the giant political machine, but this message isn't new in films or TV. Or is Stewart taking aim at the Republicans' harsh political views? In fact, what are the issues at play here? They've been pushed to the side when they should occupy front and center. Without giving away anything, the film's central premise collapses at the end when we see the big reveal. Really? I thought. That's it??

Leads Carell, Cooper and Byrne, plus the supporting cast, deliver fine performances, but the material and execution let them down. Perhaps Stewart took too much on scripting as well as directing when another creative voice may have helped. Unfortunately, Irresistible is not.

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