I don’t think there is anyone you could talk with as we begin our descent into the 2020 Presidential election that could argue the point that since 2016 – we have been in a political climate the likes of which we have ever experienced. Influenced by news channels with specific agenda’s, websites that literally just makeup news – or distort facts to a degree that any truth that at one point may have existed is no longer recognizable, and social media, where instead of being used as a sounding board for ideas, or a forum for different points of view has instead become weaponized and whose security is on a good day – questioned. Yes – this is where we find ourselves in the summer of 2020.
But – what would happen if the movers and shakers – the spin doctors, the media, the social media trolls – what if all those things got used for a different purpose? What if?
Those two words – What if – they are at the heart of the new release from writer/director Jon Stewart in his new political comedy Irresistible. Using his trademark sarcasm, and a keen eye for what is actually going on in the world – Stewart constructs a town, a situation, and a cast of characters that perfectly highlights the divide that if Trump didn’t create it – he certainly exploited to a degree that makes Dr. Evil blush.
And it’s in that divide that Stewart works his magic.
The main power of this tale lies in the script – amazingly witty, often poignant, and just plain all-around smart, Irresistible tells the tale of Gary – played by Steve Carell – a top democratic strategist who sees a video of Jack Hastings – a retired Marine played by Chris Cooper – who shows up at a town hall meeting in a small Wisconsin locale and stands up for some workers who the town has an eye on dispensing of. Jack gives an impassioned speech and promptly leaves. Gary is blown away by the man’s honesty and integrity and immediately thinks he has found his golden goose and heads out to small-town America to convince Jack that he needs to run for public office.
Turns out that there is a mayoral election coming up and Gary prods Jack into running. At first, not open to the idea, Jack relents with the only provision being that Gary must stay and run the campaign. What follows is the classic “fish out of water” tale with Gary struggling to fit in with his “big city” ways in the polite, friendly, little town. Things escalate to a whole new level though when the Republicans bring in their top general – Faith, played by Rose Bryne – to handle the campaign of the incumbent Republican mayor. Faith and Gary have a bit of history and it lends itself to some of the film’s most fun moments.
Things get out of hand quickly with PAC’s and Super PAC’s getting involved and what starts out as a small-town mayoral election generates into a huge national news story that takes on a life of its own – with the media doing what they do best – making their own news. The scene with all the talking heads trying to make a point at the same time is so dead-on perfect – it would make you cry if you weren’t laughing so hard.
Stewart’s deeper message of questioning everything you see or hear doesn’t get lost in the comedy – which I love. There is an incredibly important message at play here, one that every American needs to hear and Jon Stewart is just the man to grab us by the ear and make us listen. The divide that has found its way into our hearts, into our daily lives, into our country must be addressed and every single one of us is at fault for allowing it to happen. We have become so obsessed with “winning” that we have forgotten what the prize is – Irresistible reminds us of that bigger picture – and it does it with heart, humanity, and humor.