A Democratic political consultant (Steve Carrell) helps a retired Marine colonel (Chris Cooper) run for mayor in a small Wisconsin town. The campaign soon spirals into massive fundraising when the incumbent is joined by a Republican strategist (Rose Byrne) and quickly spirals out of control...
For a long time, Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' was a sharp, anarachic take on US politics, fielded by a comedian who made a point about not giving a shit about either side of the divide. It's telling, then, that his first movie about American politics since his tenure on the Daily Show ended is something so clearly aimed at both sides of the political landscape, but misfires entirely.
Steve Carrell plays an opportunistic Democrat campaign manager who decides to throw the full weight of the party behind a softly-spoken former military officer who's running for mayor in a small town in rural Wisconsin. The incumbent Republican mayor is then staffed by his nemesis, a blonde-haired, Fox News familiar played by Rose Byrne, and the two campaigns go head-to-head with millions of dollars funneling through their campaigns as it attracts national attention.
Much of American political satire is painfully bland, and very often lacks any kind of bite when it comes to addressing both the lack of difference between the two political parties, or how fundamentally broken the two-party system is. 'Irresistible' is, sadly, just another feeble attempt at trying to make something funny about something that's not funny at all.
Steve Carrell does his best to improvise his way out of flat scenes, but is doing much of the heavy lifting while Rose Byrne, though capable of being wildly funny, is curiously absent bar a scene or two with Carrell. Chris Cooper, a capable straight-man in any scenario, makes very little impact, as does his on-screen daughter Mackenzie Davis.
The central theme of 'Irresistible' is that politics in the US is a money business and that it will always, always find ways of making and spending more money rather than attempting to serve the people. That's a valid point to make, but how Jon Stewart's script and direction handles all that is so excruciatingly poor. You're expecting so much from it, but it fails to deliver on every count - not unlike political promises.
Not only that, it suffers from being not terribly funny in the first place. There's precious little construction in any of the scenes, relying heavily on the same joke and fitful bursts of comedy to try and get it through a scene.
All in all, 'Irresistible' fails on two major counts of a political comedy - what it has to say isn't particularly exciting, and it doesn't even do that in a funny or engaging way.