Irresistible (2020 film)
Official digital release poster
|Directed by||Jon Stewart|
|Written by||Jon Stewart|
|Music by||Bryce Dessner|
|Distributed by||Focus Features|
Irresistible is a 2020 American political comedy film written and directed by Jon Stewart. It stars Steve Carell, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, and Rose Byrne. The film follows a Democratic strategist who tries to help a local candidate win an election in a small right-wing town.
Initially set for a theatrical release in May 2020, the film was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and then released on video on demand and limited theaters on June 26, 2020, by Focus Features. It received mixed reviews from critics, who called it "a soft political satire".
Successful Democratic campaigner Gary Zimmer is in despair due to the results of the 2016 election. Gary is shown a viral video of Marine Colonel Jack Hastings giving a speech standing up for the undocumented immigrant population living in his hometown of Deerlaken, Wisconsin. Deciding that if he can run Hastings as the Democratic mayoral candidate in the next election, he can convince the American people in the heartland to vote democrat in the next presidential election. Arriving in Deerlaken, Gary immediately finds his city slicker Washington DC attitude contrasting to the townspeople more rural mannerisms.
Gary soon meets Hastings and his daughter Diana and pitches his idea. Hastings initially declines considering himself more of a conservative and having no real interest in politics, but later relents and agrees to run under the condition that Gary runs his campaign. Hastings recruits his friends and neighbors as volunteers for the campaign. However, setbacks soon arise including the fact that most of the town is conservative and the fact that the incumbent Mayor Braun is being funded by the Republican National Committee. The RNC also sends down Faith Brewster, Gary’s nemesis, to counter Gary.
The election soon heats up and Gary takes Hastings to New York so they can recruit fundraisers for the campaign to match Faith’s money and reinforcements. Hastings gives a powerful speech to the possible donors about how he needs their help for his small town which inspires Gary. Their donations allow Gary to upgrade their campaigning methods. Soon the election polls show Hastings and Braun neck in neck although the Hastings’ campaign takes a dive when one of Gary’s team members promises the schools free contraceptives paid for by the government which irritates a group of nuns. When Gary starts berating his teammates, Diana convinces him to apologize and that if he is going to run her father’s campaign, he needs to be nice.
When it starts to look like Faith and Braun are going to win, Gary tries to convince Hastings and Diana to play dirty and start exploiting Braun’s skeletons. Diana is horrified that Gary would play dirty and goes to Braun for advice. Braun and Diana decide to secretly reveal a bigger scandal about Braun so Gary won’t go after Braun’s brother which was his original plan. The scandal, however, proves to be false.
On Election Day, no one votes which confuses both Gary and Faith. It is revealed that the election was actually a setup. Diana shot the video of her father’s immigration speech so that Gary and Faith would pour thousands of dollars into the election which would help the town through its financial trouble due to the recent closure of the military base. Gary is shocked that Diana would play him and Diana then counters him by explaining the town set this up because DC politicians play small towns like theirs all the time. When Gary reveals that he was hoping that there was a spark between them, Diana rejects him. Later, Gary and Faith enter into a sexual relationship and Diana becomes the mayor of Deerlaken after a special election.
- Steve Carell as Gary Zimmer
- Rose Byrne as Faith Brewster
- Chris Cooper as Marine Colonel Jack Hastings
- Mackenzie Davis as Diana Hastings
- Topher Grace as Kurt Farlander
- Natasha Lyonne as Janet De Tessant
- Will Sasso as Nick Farlander
- C.J. Wilson as Lowell
- Brent Sexton as Mayor Braun
- Alan Aisenberg as Evan
- Debra Messing as Babs Garnett
- Christian Adam as Michael Garnett
- Will McLaughlin as Captain Ortiz
It was announced in October 2018 that Jon Stewart was planning his next directorial effort, with Steve Carell in talks to star, contingent on scheduling. In March 2019, Rose Byrne entered negotiations to join the film. That same month, Chris Cooper joined the cast of the film, with Focus Features acquiring distribution rights. In April 2019, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, and Debra Messing joined the cast of the film. Will Sasso, CJ Wilson, Natasha Lyonne, and Alan Aisenberg joined in May. In June 2019, Brent Sexton joined the cast of the film.
The film was released in digitally in the United States through Premium VOD, as well as in selected theaters, on June 26, 2020. It was originally scheduled for a wide theatrical release on May 29, 2020, but due to movie theater closures that started in mid-March due of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, it was cancelled.
In its debut weekend, Irresistible was the top-rented film on the iTunes Store and fourth on FandangoNow (although since the service reports totals by the week it was likely first over the three-day frame). It also made an estimated $100,000 from 238 theaters. In its second weekend of release it finished fourth at both iTunes and FandangoNow.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 42% based on 187 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "A soft political satire that proves frustratingly less than the sum of its talented parts, Irresistible is anything but." At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Owen Gleiberman of Variety said that "Irresistible scores points yet feels behind the curve. You wish it were a bold satirical bulletin, or maybe just Stewart's pricelessly amusing version of a Christopher Guest movie. Instead, the film is a lot like a politician: It makes a big show of leading the viewer, but without rocking the boat." David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "C" and, although praising Byrne's performance, wrote: "A Capra-esque moral comedy that unfolds with all the subtlety of sky writing and none of the same panache, Irresistible is a perverse bid for clarity that feels like it was left behind like a relic from some long-distant past."
San Francisco Chronicle‘s G. Allen Johnson said Stewart created "perhaps the most lamebrain, ham-fisted and insulting movie of the year." Johnson adds that he finds the movie unfunny on top of taking wide swings, which miss, at both rural Midwesterners and East Coast elites.
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- Ehrlich, David (June 22, 2020). "'Irresistible' Review: Jon Stewart Returns with a Toothless Political Satire Out of Touch with Trump Era". IndieWire. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
- Johnson, G. Allen. Review: ‘Irresistible,’ Jon Stewart’s political comedy, is one of the most insulting movies of the year, San Francisco Chronicle, June 23, 2020. Retrieved June 30, 2020.