HE agrees that Jon Stewart‘s Irresistable (Focus Features, streaming on 6.26) is bit too mild-mannered for its own good. It lacks provocation, nerve, now-ness. It’s not just that this rural political-spin comedy is set in ’17 or thereabouts, but the film itself seems to be have been made two or three years ago. Or 10 or 15. And yes, I agree that it’s not especially funny. It is, however, mildly amusing in an LQTM sort of way. And it’s a smooth package by any fair standard — nicely shot, performed, paced, edited.

So I don’t see the big problem. It’s something to stream (or not) this weekend if you’ve nothing better to do. You and your wife or girlfriend or pallies sit on the couch, pay the money, etc. And yet the critics have ganged up and beaten the shit out of this poor, harmless little film. The Rotten Tomatoes gang has rendered a 39% rating, and the Metacritics have given it a lousy 50% score. People will watch what they want to watch, of course, but score-wise this puppy is basically D.O.A.

I would only repeat that it’s not a criminal offense to be a tepid, mildly diverting chuckler or, you know, a nice, meh-level, ripple-free distraction. You know what I mean. It’s not a bother to watch it. It doesn’t irritate or piss you off. It just does the old soft shoe and wraps things up (credits included) within 102 minutes.

Set in some small town in rural farm country (Wisconsin? Iowa? does it matter?), it’s about an election for mayor of said town that becomes, for curious reasons, a wildly expensive, nationally hyped super-show.

Steve Carell and Rose Byrne are hot-shot political operators (Democrat and Republican respectively) who descend upon this small hamlet and stir things up. Chris Cooper is the soft-spoken candidate you want to see win, etc.

Stewart’s script was “partially inspired by the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, where the Democratic and Republican parties and groups supporting them spent more than 55 million dollars combined — the most expensive House Congressional election in U.S. history.”

Agreed — watching Carell deliver another variation on his standard screen persona (a neurotic, intensely focused, clenched-fist fussbudget with a spoiled, effete attitude) has felt old or at least over-deployed for some time. I still think his peak moment happened in Little Miss Sunshine (14 years ago!) and that his last well-grounded, fully-charged performance happened in The Big Short (’15). But I didn’t mind him in Irresistable. I was just “okay, here we go again, not bad, whatever.”

And the film does deliver a hidden-card ending that’s…well, somewhat unexpected. At least it’s not Welcome to Mooseport.

Remember Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear“, which happened on the Washington mall in October 2010? (And which I attended.) The focus was on politics as usual, and the idea was more or less that “we, the people are better than all the left-right rancor so let’s calm down and listen to each pther.” Or something like that. Irresistable is drawn from a similar well.

The Irresistable supporting players — Byrne, Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, Will Sasso, et. al. — are fine. Bobby Bukowski‘s cinematography and Bryce Dessner‘s score are fine. It’s all fine. It was partly filmed in Rockmart, Georgia, which is roughly 30 miles northwest of Atlanta.