Dated political dramedy

An ace D.C. political strategist (Steve Carell) sees a way for the Dems to regain America’s heartland by helping a retired veteran (Chris Cooper) win a rural town’s mayoral election. The story quickly goes nationwide, prompting the GOP to counter by sending in his ruthless nemesis (Rose Byrne, excellent). 

This gentle satire is of course the product of the sharp and empathetic political mind of former Daily Show host Jon Stewart.  

On the plus side: the acting is tops, and though it walks the cusp of silly and profound, it gets points for skewering both the reds and the blues with equal irreverence. And it turns on its head the tendency of both sides to condescend to naïve rural America. 

But it’s more than a little obvious, the imparted wisdom is fairly conventional, and it seems a bit behind the curve and inconsequential. Might have come off better in 2015. 

It perks up in the third act with a twist ending I didn’t see coming, but getting there is kind of a slog. Worth seeing, but as brilliant a political entertainer as Steward is, his genius does not seem to extend to filmmaking.

(101 min)

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