Jon Stewart’s “Irresistible” might catch his biggest fans by surprise.
The July 26 comedy finds the “Daily Show” alum treating politics with more balance than his old TV platform. The writer/director’s main character, a liberal strategist played by Steve Carell, bears the brunt of the jokes during the first act.
Those eager for ResistanceTM filmmaking should look elsewhere.
Carell stars as a Beltway warrior who turns a small town’s political slugfest into a national sensation. Chris Cooper plays the military veteran Carell’s character backs, an attempt for Democrats to wrest Rust Belt voters back from Team Trump.
Stewart couldn’t completely hold his progressive impulses back, though. A scene late in the movie finds the auteur bearing his ideological teeth.
And it isn’t pretty.
Very mild spoilers ahead:
The sequence in question shows activists trying to persuade last-minute voters. We see several special interest groups greeting passers by with their pitches.
- “Build a Wall” voices
- Pro-coal activists
- A group of Antifa-like anarchists
- Tiki torch bearers talking up “white power” (you have to strain to hear those words)
There’s zero chance the latter group would assemble in such a family-friendly setting. Still, one could argue Stewart frames all the activists in a neutral manner.
Then the camera zooms in on a gun rights table.
We see several gun owners, all white, inviting strangers to grab a free pen and hear their sales pitch. Again, nothing unusual there. Pro-Second Amendment groups are part of the political fabric.
The brief moment isn’t over yet.
We then see a group of Black Lives Matter activists approach the table. The white gun owners suddenly pull back the pens as if they don’t want to even share them with the men. Next, the black activists approach, with one extending a hand for a shake.
Is Stewart going to show how people can agree to disagree? No.
The gun owners recoil at the gesture, refusing to shake the man’s hand.
Racist? Intolerant? It’s hard to argue otherwise, especially since the film was shot long before the George Floyd protests morphed into anti-cop violence.
Stewart delivers a very cheap shot in a movie that strains to avoid partisan rage. It’s a reminder that Stewart’s Comedy Central reign set the template for the late night’s current, sorry state.
His “Daily Show” routinely hit Republicans harder than Liberals. Stewart employed selective editing to hammer home his ideological points. and he cursed with abandon. That bleep-a-palooza continues today, although some curses now sail past the network and cable censors.
Stewart shows he hasn’t completely left his “Daily Show” instincts behind with “Irresistible.”