I take no pleasure in saying IRRESISTIBLE has been one of my most disappointing watches of the year. I have been looking forward to this film for weeks because its written/directed by Jon Stewart, has an awesome cast, and an admittedly funny trailer. But overall, the movie is very forgettable, with serious pacing and tone problems and all of the best parts spoiled in the trailer. I felt like I was watching the movie for 3 hours and then it all of a sudden ends. This was exacerbated by the fact that the laughs were few and far between and pretty much only whenever Rose Byrne was on-screen. Unfortunately, the film is a victim of the perhaps built-in high expectations from Stewart’s intelligent voice we have missed hearing since he left The Daily Show.
Democratic strategist Gary (Steve Carrell) is still reeling from his defeat as a member of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign team. So much so, he travels to Wisconsin to support a potential Democratic candidate for small-town mayor in the battleground state. His target is Jack (Chris Cooper) a former Marine-turned farmer who went viral for defending undocumented workers during a town hall meeting. Gary sees Jack as the perfect candidate to rally the town and decides to use his expertise and political capital to get him elected. But when his political rival and Republican strategist Faith (Rose Byrne) sees Gary’s plan to turn the town from red to blue, the battle starts and both parties descend on the small town with substantial money and resources. But who will win out in the end?
I know Steve Carrell’s character in the movie is supposed to be problematic and unlikeable, but usually Steve is able to make his characters (at the very least) entertaining. Even in movies like BATTLE OF THE SEXES, he almost makes you start liking his more loathsome characters (note: I am not including FOXCATCHER in here). But in IRRESISTIBLE, the script didn’t allow any room for his natural charisma to come through… and that’s saying a lot. I hated his character from the second the movie started and it only grew as the movie progressed, especially because his character didn’t have much of an arc. And yeah, maybe that’s the point… showing the difficulty political animals like Carrell’s character have in adapting to and understanding all parts of America. But it doesn’t make for a good movie.
Thank God for Rose Byrne, who (as always) is phenomenal playing a Kellyanne Conway-esque conservative foil to Carrell. Rose has never been bad in a movie. Period. And waiting for her character to come on screen was the only thing that got me to the end of the film. If only she were in it more. I would’ve watched a whole spinoff movie focused on her character.
The film does bring up timely political issues, primarily in showing the national divide, campaign finance issues, and that the Democratic party does not seem to understand its voting base outside of its traditional areas. I only wish it had a bit more substance, or at least humor. The most interesting part of the film was reserved for the end credit scenes. So if you do decide NOT to heed my warning, make sure you stick around for that. Stewart interviews noted expert in campaign finance, Trevor Potter, and the two discuss whether the events in this movie could really happen.
Bottom line: save your money and at the very least wait for this to come to Netflix.
My Review: C-