2.5 out 5 stars
While the campaign machine is in full swing throughout the United States, people sit with dubious attention as these bizarre events unfold. There seem to be very few things to laugh at in the world and especially in the election process, except some of the things each candidate says with each press release. Which makes Jon Stewart’s directorial debut a timely affair as he attempts to expose the ridiculous nature of this system through his satirical manner that pulls no punches for either side.
Set amongst the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and focusing on Democratic Party campaign consultant Gary Zimmer (Steve Carell), who is trying to salvage his career. As his office tries to move past the blame game after the faltering during a seemingly unlosable campaign, he thinks he has found the answer for his party’s problems. After seeing a video of Marine Colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), the driven consultant decides that this man has the potential to change the fortunes of the Democrats. Even though it is merely for the local mayoral election of the small town of Deerlaken, Wisconsin, the campaign manager sees this as a grassroots opportunity to reshape the image of his reputation and the party.
Zimmer decides to travel to the small community and convince the former soldier to run against the town’s incumbent Republican mayor. An experience that proves to be a bigger challenge than he thought. Despite being a city boy, Gary quickly realises that he and the political system are out of touch with the heart of America. Surprisingly, he convinces the Colonel to run for office, which means the campaign machine gets unleashed on the small town. What starts as a lesson in crossing the cultural divide eventually turns into an all-out war when Faith Brewster (Rose Byrne) arrives in town. As the representative of the Republican National Committee, she takes this fight from being political and turns it all into something deeply personal.
In this ill-fated and darkly comical story, Steve Carrell and Rose Byrne manage to embody the emotionless and embattled campaign managers with convincing intensity. Their comedic sensibilities add to their performances, but it is the supporting cast that brings this parody to life. Cooper, Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate), the town folk and campaign staff prove to be the best part of this film. From the opening scene that focuses on the struggling town of Deerlaken, the majority of the actors seem to have been brought on to play farcical representations of small-town America. Fortunately, this all gets turned on its ear and they prove to be the winning element in the end.
Even though Jon Stewart grew up in New York, the one thing that he manages to get right is the portrayal of the understated nature and value of the heartland. His script does fall into a caricature of the Midwest at times, but it does manage to prove to show the qualities of this part of the United States. The talk show host turned director does bring his ironic tone and wit to his writing and does not hold back on showing the ridiculous nature of both sides of the political machine.
Unfortunately, he does not downplay the reality of this field of work and the use of foul, caustic language either. An aspect of the scripting which means this timely and potentially eloquent story becomes completely inaccessible to mainstream audiences. Similar to his big-city characters who fail to understand the nuances of their Midwestern clients, Stewart misses this subtle nuance that would have connected with his intended audience. Even though his screenplay does prove to be a clever depiction of US elections, it does miss that special something. It is hard to put a finger on what that was, but the heart of the story does falter a bit and may push more people away than draw them in. With a bit of a nip and tuck in the script and the editing, Irresistible could have gone from being an average outing to a brilliant statement on the national political system.
REEL DIALOGUE: What is the Bible’s view on politics?
People have managed to thrive despite the impact of the government on their lives. Mankind has flourished under both the antagonistic, repressive governmental systems as well as the forms of government that expose more human freedoms. The critical thing to understand is that governments are not a means of salvation. Governments are a necessary factor in the governance of mankind, even though many fail to serve their citizens in the way they should.
Even though it may seem odd to say, the Bible does not make political activism the primary purpose of humanity. The mission of believers in Christ is less about political reform and should focus on changing the hearts of their fellow human beings through the Word of God. When people make Christ the primary focus and work to spread the Gospel, then real change occurs in the world.
‘Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.’