Starring: Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper
Director: Jon Stewart
Running Time: 108 mins
Irresistible is an American film about a Democratic political strategist who travels to a small, rural town in Wisconsin to help a retired veteran run for mayor.
Attempting to get to the crux of why the Democrats lost the US presidential election in 2016, Irresistible blends political commentary with run-of-the-mill Hollywood comedy in often enjoyable, but largely mediocre fashion.
As a comedy to laugh at, the film isn’t half bad, with entertaining performances from Steve Carell and Rose Byrne, as well as a few standout moments of good humour. It’s not hilarious, but if you do watch it with your brain turned off, then Irresistible can be a fairly enjoyable watch.
However, the film’s main purpose isn’t to make you laugh. Instead, it’s more about analysing the current political climate in the United States, using the Democrats’ 2016 loss as a starting point for a wider look at the role of the media, politicians, election campaigners and the public in the situation the country finds itself in nowadays.
Written and directed by the ever-incisive political comedian Jon Stewart, you’d expect Irresistible to have a good eye for the political climate it’s examining. Unfortunately, however, it’s far from the perceptive commentary that it thinks it is.
That’s not to say the film’s assessment of American politics is wrong, but it’s both too heavy-handed in its messaging and still underwhelming in the analysis it brings out from its story.
From the way it looks at the ever-deepening divide between Republicans and Democrats to the disconnect between metropolitan ‘elites’ and normal everyday folk away from the big cities, there’s something about Irresistible that actually feels far too simple and superficial in what it’s trying to say.
Though, from a Democrat standpoint, the film does manage to poke fun at itself and the often elitist, out-of-touch mentality of many involved in politics on that side of the debate, it also goes a little too far in its praising and understanding of people considered more ‘normal’, and more likely to vote Republican.
In fact, there are times when the movie portrays the locals of the small Wisconsin village as so welcoming, friendly and honest that it just feels like it’s pandering to a particular demographic to get them onside. Those characteristics are all fair ones to point out about people in rural communities, but Irresistible lays it on so heavy that it just feels like a bit of a desperate attempt to win favour with them.
So, with an underwhelming attempt at political commentary, I can’t say that Irresistible is the most effective or gripping watch. But what’s more frustrating is that – with political analysis at the centre of its focus – it’s difficult to really enjoy it as a lighter, more enjoyable comedy.
As I said earlier, the film certainly has the potential to entertain in that vein, but the political message is so central to its story that you can’t really put your feet up and turn your brain off to watch this movie, which I found a shame given its comic potential. And that’s why I’m giving Irresistible a 6.9 overall.