Irresistible

 

            A small town in Wisconsin.  A town council meeting where a local farmer, a retired colonel, speaks out against requiring Ids for voter registration, knowing that such a law would be discriminatory against the undocumented workers in their midst.  The clip goes viral.  And quickly comes to the attention of a bigwig in Democratic Party election circles.  Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell) has just returned from overseeing the enormous machine which was the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign of 2016, which, as we all know.....lost unexpectedly.

            But in this version of the Democratic Party machinery, instead of blaming themselves for ignoring the Rust Belt, which became the Swing States, they decide they've gotten out of touch with the Heartland, with Middle America.  And so Gary Zimmer is dispatched to this same tiny town in Wisconsin in order to recover the Democratic mojo.  This Colonel, Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), is the real deal---honest, hardworking, down-to-earth, straightforward, and more a Democrat than he realizes.  Let's get him elected, and duplicate that kind of turnaround all over the Heartland, and we'll be a juggurnaut in 2020.  Right?

            Wrong, electoral-college-breath.  The Republicans send their top-notch strategist, Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne), who, as a tough-talking, over made-up and overdressed city girl, seems not to fit in to the local bakery shop and coffee clatch.  But Rose and Steve have competed before, and they know what they're doing.  They bring all their campaign machinery to bear.  They raise money in fancy fund-raisers from the faraway urban contacts.  And in general, they spend way more money than one little mayor's race in Wisconsin would seem to warrant.

            See, the town's been in a rough slide since the base closed.  Now they might not be able to hold on to their high school, without some additional funding.  Half the stores in downtown are shuttered.  There doesn't seem to be much happening, until suddenly the Mayor's election even has television crews coming to town, chronicling the new political battleground.

            Director Jon Stewart certainly has an ear for the farcical.  He teeters on the verge of making his characters into caricatures, but then backs away just long enough to add a little humanity to the mix.  We think we know where he's going with this, but, it turns out, we really don't.  And that's the real fun.

            Yes, it just might start a conversation about the persistent dichotomies of American politics.  But, it's also a light comedy with a little satirical bite, which adds just enough flavor to be interesting.  It's not exactly as “Irrresistible” as the title would imply.  But it's at least pleasantly ironic.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association