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Big City Politics In Small-Town America

Credit: Daniel McFadden / Focus Features
Chris Cooper stars as Jack Hastings and Steve Carell as Gary Zimmer in IRRESISTIBLE, a Focus Features release.

By Paul Hall

Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) is a Democratic political strategist who loves the nuances of the political process. The rush of a successful campaign and seeing your candidate succeed is fulfilling after working through the power, corruption, backstabbing and lies on all sides and within all parties participating in the political process. But Gary is in a funk. He was a vital piece of the failed 2016 election and the loss makes him feel that his party needs to reshape itself. And then, like a ray of sun, Gary stumbles upon a viral video of a man who is perfect to help him reset the narrative in the new film Irresistible from writer/director Jon Stewart.

Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) is a renegade in a small Wisconsin town. He’s an ex-Marine, invested in many of the same beliefs that have always fueled the party Gary loves. Jack is someone who could catapult the party to reset for the upcoming elections and Gary believes he is the key to the entire nationwide electorate.

So what makes Jack the poster child for the new Democratic Party? He is a blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth farmer. He was in the military. The viral video that Gary stumbled upon has him fighting for the rights of immigrants and he believes in most of the core philosophies of the Party. He has Midwestern, relatable sensibilities and doesn’t feel like a politician. And because of all of these points, Gary has one mission: get Jack onboard and help him become mayor of Deerlaken, Wis. It is through this process that Gary believes he can reshape the national image of the Democratic Party.

When Gary gets the national Party involved in the local mayoral campaign, the money starts flowing and the attention begins to grow for this small town. And when a traditional Republican stronghold is assaulted, one thing must happen: The opposition has to stop them. Enter rival strategist Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne). She is the Republican counterpart to Gary and the two rivals make small-town Wisconsin the focus of national news and the focus of talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum. Money and influence are flowing freely in this locale and the spotlight is shining bright on the residents and their political leanings. Who will prevail in the mayoral election of the year?

Stewart gives us a small glimpse into a political process that is flush with money and manipulation. So-called experts highlight the panels of pundits overflowing at the seams while the real people who dot the landscape of this country feel like pawns in a larger game. No matter if it is a presidential election or a mayoral race, every race is important to the bottom line.

Power and money make unique bedfellows and all of the pieces fit together to fund a machine, whether in Washington or Deerlaken. Carell and Byrne shine in their roles as rival strategists and the two of them remind us that it is all a giant game.

Stewart’s film may rub some the wrong way — he takes aim at both political parties and the process that is in place. Everything in this film could easily be flipped around and the view is not condemning of one party or the other. In a society that is becoming increasingly polarized with us getting our information solely from sources who match our belief system, it reminds us that maybe, just maybe, listening to a variety of points of view will help us all come through life in a better place and with a healthy perspective. We are not a political party. We are the people.

Paul’s Grade: B

Rated R
Stars: Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper
Director: Jon Stewart

Available now to rent and enjoy from online retailers everywhere, including AppleTV, FandangoNOW, Amazon Prime Video and more.

Steve Carell stars as Gary Zimmer and Rose Byrne as Faith Brewster in IRRESISTIBLE, a Focus Features release.
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