Early in Irresistible, a film directed and written by Jon Stewart, we cut from your basic Washington weasel to what is labeled in a caption as "Rural America," and under that, "Heartland, USA." This wry joke suggests that ripping off this meaningless, cynical label slapped on the Wisconsin town we're about to visit will be the film's purpose. Unfortunately, "Rural America: Heartland, USA" is how the movie sees the town, too. The town is generic, the people are generic, the movie is generic, and its politics are generic. Given how broadly unobjectionable it is designed to be, it's a little shocking how transparently it's laboring to be subversive.
Gary (Steve Carell) is a campaign consultant (interestingly, the film's official synopsis calls him a "Democrat campaign consultant") who worked for Hillary Clinton and is reeling from the 2016 election when we first meet him. If you watched Carell on The Office, you largely know who Gary is: Think Michael Scott if he'd made his way into political consulting and used his sales skills over there, and also he didn't have any of the redeeming qualities Michael Scott had.
Gary comes across a viral video of a Wisconsin veteran and farmer named Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) giving a speech about principle at a town meeting in Rural America, Heartland USA. Enthralled by Hastings and seeing an opportunity, Gary descends on the town and becomes the leader of Jack's campaign for mayor, which he wants to use as a proving ground for a more rural-friendly Democratic party in the wake of losses in several midwestern states in 2016.
Naturally, Jack is a reticent and plain-spoken farmer who resists Gary's big-city, D.C. insider ways, and the film spends a lot of time guffawing at things like Gary telling his staff he wants to be authentic and stripped down for his trip to Wisconsin and needs a regular rental car, not a fancy one—then popping his head back in to ask for a car with Bose speakers in the kind of sequence you can call out from your couch with ease: "He's going to pop back in and say he wants a champagne bath or something!"
Back in Rural America, Heartland USA, Gary and a Republican counterpart of his named Faith (played by Rose Byrne, deserving better as she often does) descend into a caricature of politics in which they're uninterested in the stakes of the mayoral election; they just are interested in winning.