When Jon Stewart departed The Daily Show in 2015, he left viewers with a warning: “Bullshit is everywhere … and the best defense against bullshit is vigilance—so if you smell something, say something.” After 16 years of serving as one of America’s fiercest media critics, Stewart said he was stepping down from the job because “this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.” It was clear that satirizing the relentless fire hose of cable news was finally beginning to wear thin for him. In the intervening five years, he’s occasionally dropped by his pal Stephen Colbert’s show, but he’s otherwise kept out of the limelight. Yet Stewart’s new movie, Irresistible, is a pointed political satire with a stark message—the comedian smells something, and he wants to say something.
Irresistible is about an election, one with slightly lower stakes than November’s approaching presidential showdown. The film is set in a small Wisconsin town, where the retired Marine colonel Jack Hastings (played by Chris Cooper) decides to run for mayor after a video of him speaking truth to power goes viral and draws the attention of the high-powered Democratic strategist Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell). Gary sees Jack as a dream candidate to turn the American heartland blue again, a principled veteran who understands the value of helping his neighbors. But with Gary comes a whole party infrastructure, which in itself summons the Republican Party machinery (led by a ruthless strategist played by Rose Byrne), creating an electoral storm in a teacup.