Gathered with his one-time colleague from “The Daily Show” Steve Carell, Stewart selects (and includes) familiar targets. It starts with media excesses, from hosting on Fox News to showing a CNN board with multiple workers sharing a screen from “Hollywood Squares”.
However, the main focus is on the political management of the games, embodied by advisor Gary Zimmer, played by Carell. Shown in the pictures alongside Bill Clinton, it is clear that he possesses juice in Democratic circles, making his latest mission unlikely.
Zimmer identified a farmer from Wisconsin (he met the chyron “Heartland USA”) who advocates progressive values in a viral video. That clip inspires Zimmer to convince retired Marine Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper, at best) to run for his small town.
Why a candidate for small potatoes? Because it’s all part of a bigger game, using Jack to “check the moral message of rural situations” for the national stage, even if it means calming down the cows to shoot folk TV spots.
This plan, however, does not elude disclosure, as rival Republican adviser Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) descends on the city as well, launching a counterattack.
A battle ensues between the two sides throwing resources at a small hamlet where residents – among them Jack’s protective daughter (Mackenzie Davis) – appear alternately mystified and confused by the action. (In the role of quality are Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne in small roles on the advisor side.)
After interrupting his “Daily Show” urge to direct the little-seen “Rosewater,” Stewart is a little more commercial here. That being said, the liveliest sequence actually comes during the final points, when Stewart appears in front of the camera that interviewed the election expert, which is a tutorial on what you just watched.
Carell is fine, but the whole formula for getting water out of the water – first with him to a rural country and then with a colonel who was on his way to fundraising with court donors – doesn’t feel particularly inspired. That’s too many “green acres” – just for your own good.
“Irresistible” is in a sense a victim of high expectations. It’s mostly fun and reasonably smart; Yet for those who miss Stewart who spent debauched satire four nights a week, it doesn’t raise a level that would justify giving up on it, regardless of death.
But in the end, “Irresistible” seeks to stray hearts and open minds, so perhaps it inevitably ends preaching — and yes, it’s an operative term — to the choir. As road tests pass, Stewart’s film passes inspection, but only barely.
The “irresistible” premiere is shown on June 26 on demand.