TL;DR – Based on some strong character work, Irresistible is a riot of laughs from start to finish, but it still has something important it wants to say.
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid and end-credit scene
Irresistible Review –
It is rare for a film to catch me completely off guard these days. In the era of trailers giving most of the game away and the pretty standard plot structure that most films follow, you tend to know what you are getting yourself into before you sit down in the theatre. Well, today, I look at a movie that surprised me from the start and never let up.
So to set the scene, we open on the night before the 2016 Presidential elections where Democratic party representative Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) and his Republican counterpart Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) are giving their final pitches to the nation in the ‘spin room’. Well, we all know how that election turned out, and much like the literal depiction of a cannonball to the gut Gary is in a state of despair. However, a couple of years later as mid-terms approach he is trying to find a way to reconnect with heartland voters when he stumbles across a viral video of Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) in Deerlaken, Minnesota. Jack is standing up to the local Mayor Braun (Brent Sexton) over his stance on immigration. Gary has found his gateway to the heartland and flies to Minnesota and agrees to run Jack’s campaign for Mayor.
Of the many things that Irresistible gets right, the first is letting the actors shine in their roles, with everyone trying to steal the scene from everyone else. It is a real delight watching Steve and Rose do battle in both the literal narrative sense of the film but also personally with each other in every scene. Their banter is some of the best I have seen in a very long time as it is filled with loathing and also an undercurrent of desire. On the flip side, you have Chris Cooper is the most charming I have ever seen him be in a film, charismatic and thoughtful, and one-hundred per scent the kind of guy you would like to see elected. But it is not just the leads, with every member of Deerlaken being a sheer delight every time they are on screen.
One thing I was really not expecting this film to be was as funny as it was. It has been a long time since I have been in a room of people that was just rapt with laughter for the whole film. There are jokes in the banter, sight gags, uncooperative cows, cutaways, well honestly every trick in the book was used, and they worked. I think my favourite was the running joke of every moment Gary was doing something embarrassing, Dot (Pat Fisher) was always walking down the street to catch him in the act. I also liked the joke that these are old building they are in so the walls are a lot thinner than you would expect which the film uses in many creative ways. I found the humour to be spot on and given it was written by a comedian that should be no surprise. However, I will say that I think they blow through the amount of f ‘bombs’ you can use before you hit a US R-rating in the first five minutes of the film.
In some respects, I think this is a film that is going to be appreciated a lot better out of American than within. Yes, it does help if you are up to date on a lot of the US political jargon they are referencing and satirising. For example, the campaign disclosures on the increasingly over the top campaign ads and the references to Middle America. However, being a bit removed from the situation here in Australia allows some of those humorous moments to hit a little harder than it might do back home. That is not to say that it all works. Indeed there are some elements towards the end that slide into abject silliness that I wish they had pulled back on.
However, to talk about this film in full, we do need to discuss the ending, which means that there will be [MAJOR SPOILERS] ahead. One of the key narrative hooks in this film is the reveal towards the end that the town is playing the politicians off each other to force money back into the town so they can pay to keep their High School open. This twist takes what would be already a fun and interesting film and takes it to the next level. Yes, this is also the time where the film gets a bit too preachy, with characters straight up talking to the audience about money and politics. But it is also where the film shows that some of the odd moments from the film had a purpose. The bad coffee orders, the way the town all knew who he is etc. is all plaid at the start as ‘small town vibes’ but were actually part of the deception. It also allows the film to call out one of its more awkward moments with the potential love plot between Gary and Jack’s daughter Diana (Mackenzie Davis) which given the age difference was weird and I am glad the film went there and said ‘this is weird’.
In the end, do we recommend Irresistible? Yes, yes we would. This film was a delight to watch from start to finish; it also has an edge that it needs. Does it get too preachy at times, yes, but it also has an important story to tell. I think this is Jon Stewart’s best work to date, and I want to see where he goes next. If you liked Irresistible, I would also recommend to you The Interview.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Irresistible
Directed by – Jon Stewart
Written by – Jon Stewart
Music by – Bryce Dessner
Cinematography by – Bobby Bukowski
Edited by – Jay Rabinowitz & Mike Selemon
Production/Distribution Companies – Plan B Entertainment, Busboy Productions, Focus Features & Universal Pictures.
Starring – Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Brent Sexton, Will Sasso, C.J. Wilson, Kevin Maier, Tom Key, Charles Green, Alan Aisenberg, Topher Grace, Matt Lewis, Vince Pisani, Kurt Yue, Denise Moyé, Andre Rodriguez II, Neal Reddy, Sasha Morfaw, Kelsi Macaluso, Will McLaughlin, Blake Jones, William Smith, Eve Gordon, Seam Fitzpatrick, Blair Sams, Pat Fisher, Christian Adam, Rebecca Ray, Nickolas Wolf, Robert J. Carlton, Ian Covell, Gretchen Koerner, Russell Davis, Megan McFarland, Parker Chapin, Debra Messing & Natasha Lyonne
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R