Jon Stewart is a smart man, but his Irresistible (2020) is not a smart movie. The critical drubbing it received is justified. A political comedy, it revolves around a swinish Democratic consultant, Gary (Steve Carell), who tries to manage a military veteran/farmer, Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), into a Democratic mayoral victory in a small Wisconsin town. Another (D.C.) consultant, Faith (Rose Byrne), strives for the defeat of Hastings.

Stewart, director and writer here, has made Faith a Republican hypocrite. She speaks obscenities, as does Gary, and has contempt for small town America. She is neither believable nor as interesting as she should be. What is worse is that we already know, emphatically and forever, that political campaigns and low tricks go hand in hand. Why such a message from Stewart? It’s because his film is naive and hollow, which explains his creation of a scene in which Hastings delivers a speech to New York Dem donors (!) and says not a word about what is most important in politics—policy. Yet the donors are impressed.

Nothing wrong with the acting, though. Carell is nigh brilliant and Cooper is pleasantly authentic. Byrne is as poised and flavorous as Lea Massari. But, although non-partisan, the movie they’re in is preposterous. Unfunny too.