Former “Daily Show” correspondent Steve Carell reteams with his old boss to play Gary Zimmer, a Washington insider and the Democratic National Committee’s top strategist. In the midst of creating a strategy to win votes in America’s Republican heartland—”We need some way to road test a more rural friendly message,” he says.—he’s directed to a YouTube video of retired Marine colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), giving an impassioned speech in defense of undocumented workers at a townhall meeting in Deerlaken, a small right-wing Wisconsin town. He’s like “John Wayne and tractor had a baby,” says Gary as he concocts a plan to entice Hastings to run for mayor of Deerlaken, giving the Dems a strong presence in a state sea of red. “Colonel Jack Hastings is our key back into the swing state of Wisconsin,” Gary says. “He just doesn’t know it yet.”
The citified Gary takes off his suit and tie, buys some dungarees and jumps on a private jet to Deerlaken to win over the colonel and his daughter (Mackenzie Davis), who is first seen with her arm inserted where the sun don’t shine, giving relief to a constipated cow. Appealing to Hastings’ sense of duty, Gary convinces the Marine to run and fires up the political machine.
Soon Deerlaken is overrun with Democratic operatives—like demographic profilers played by Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne—but the really race heats up when the Republican National Committee sends in Faith (Rose Byrne), Gary’s nemesis and now campaign manager to Hastings’ rival. “Twenty bucks says I do better with fear than you do with shame,” she says, taunting Gary. Soon the national media takes notice and the mayoral race in Deerlaken becomes one of the most debated elections in the country.
There’s more but that would involve giving away a plot twist and spoilers. Just keep in mind that the word “resist” is tucked away in the film’s title.
“Irresistible” is equal parts heartfelt and darkly humourous. Stewart begins conventionally enough, with the fish out of water story of bigshot Gary in a town of rubes, then slowly calibrates the story to ask, “Who are the real rubes here?” It’s a damning indictment of how political situations are manipulated, how the media allows outright lies on the airwaves and how both Democrats and Republicans are culpable and clueless to the real needs of the people. It doesn’t exactly blaze new ideological ground but the as a reminder of why the political system is twisted and broken, it’s a timely tale.