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Irresistible Ending Explained: The Unexpected Conclusion Of Jon Stewart's Movie And What It Means

Irresistible Steve Carell and Mackenzie Davis watching TV at headquarters

Warning: spoilers are in play for the ending of Irresistible**. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, head out and return once you’ve experienced the story for yourself.**

Much like the ending to writer/director Jon Stewart’s political comedy Irresistible, the reaction to the Steve Carell starring movie has been quite surprising. Maybe it’s because the unexpected conclusion to last weekend’s premium VOD release threw people for too hard of a loop. Or perhaps the fact that the film doesn’t fall into the mold that viewers would have expected left folks with something they need to noodle over a little longer. We’re about to decipher the ending of Irresistible, so consider this your final warning, as it’s time to step into the voting booth and see what’s on the ballot.

Irresistible Chris Cooper and Steve Carell on stage during a press conference

What Happened At The End Of Irresistible

After Irresistible subjects the small town of Deerlaken to a seemingly typical election cycle of punditry, advertising, and tons upon tons of SuperPAC money, only two votes were cast. As it turns out, Irresistible’s plot wasn’t about getting one person or another into office, it was about getting the city the money it needed to survive. Through an elaborate ruse, Diana Hastings (MacKenzie Davis) fools both major parties to come to their town, fund the usual dog and pony show, with the end result being a town on the brink being given a second chance. Admit it: this isn’t the ending you thought you were going to get when watching that first trailer; and there’s a pretty good reason why.

Irresistible Rose Byrne and Steve Carell staring out of the cafe window

Why Is The Ending Of Irresistible So Surprising

Rather than follow the typical story of a political operative that bonds with the locals and becomes a better person, Irresistible is all about a small town fighting back against the political infrastructure. We don’t see Gary befriending the locals, win Diana’s heart, and decide to quit the political rat race for a life in Deerlaken. The finale sees Deerlaken outmaneuver the political parties, in a very real, very effective scheme involving SuperPAC money and a huge shell game meant to convince Gary, Faith, and the D.C. Elites that they’re truly the smarter parties. When, in fact, they are not.

Jon Stewart even gets former chairman of the Federal Election Committee, Trevor Potter, to break down how and why this SuperPAC scheme works, and why it’s so scary. This mid-credits coda is the true finale to Irresistible, with Stewart taking a page from Adam McKay’s school of political filmmaking by injecting some truth into the story that’s just been told through fiction. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, as eagle eyed viewers probably sensed that something was amiss in Irresistible; and that’s exactly what Jon Stewart wanted.

Irresistible Chris Cooper, Brent Sexton, and Steve Carell in front of the election crowd

Irresistible’s Popcorn Trail Of Deception

During our sit down Jon Stewart, the writer/director talked about how a second viewing of Irresistible was a truly rewarding experience. His hopes were for the audience to revisit the film and pick up on a sort of “popcorn trail” left behind to signal the truth of the film’s story. Revisiting the film, that trail is pretty easy to follow, leading to what one could “The Great Bamboozle of Deerlaken, Wisconsin”.

Starting from the very beginning, the video of Col. Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper) standing up for his principles was an event staged by the entire town of Deerlaken. The idea of his daughter, Diana, this video is shot and cut for the express purpose of being shown to Gary, after it’s “discovered” by his staffer Evan (Alan Aisenberg), who just happens to also be a Deerlaken native.

Once Gary commits himself to Jack’s mayoral race, after swearing to him personally that he’d run the campaign, this is enough of a lure to bring Faith (Rose Byrne) to the table, as she’s committed to crushing Gary at every turn. Both major parties are now represented in this race, which in turn sees millions of dollars poured into each campaign’s SuperPAC. And thanks to all of those super shady laws that Trevor Potter goes over at the end of Irresistible, that money doesn’t need to be accounted for.

The end result of this big showdown sees Mayor Braun (Brent Sexton) still seated as mayor, as he wasn’t a bad person after all. With the whole town conspiring to raise the funds to save their town, thanks to Diana’s ingenious scheme upon moving back home, the stage was set for Irresistible’s titular inspiration. With a candidate so perfect the Democrats couldn’t resist using him to shore up the next presidential election, and the Republicans needing to get in the game in order to survive, Deerlaken takes both parties for fools, and makes a killing in the process.

Irresistible Jon Stewart reviews a shot on set

How Jon Stewart Explains His Ending For Irresistible

Some may think that the ending to Irresistible is either very cynical, or extremely simplistic, depending on one’s particular read on things. However, Jon Stewart went into his story with a clear vision in mind, and the message couldn’t be more sharply defined. In another segment of his talk with Sean O’Connell, Stewart encapsulated the message of Irresistible as follows:

I think [the message] was hopefully more hopeful than that, which was ‘Look at what a position you’ve forced people into through this process. That the only way to win is to get down into that gutter with you’. And that can’t be. That’s not sustainable. … This cannot be the only way to beat the system. We have to create a system that’s gonna have outcomes that work for people.

Playing the role of a pundit himself in his past career as the host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has plenty of experience with the messaging and the gamesmanship of the current political system. It shows in every corner of Irresistible, as he shows the world that not only is the political machine full of disconnected processes that use anonymity to make off with a bunch of the nation’s political donations, but if the people really wanted to, they could play a little dirty themselves. Of course, that’s not the takeaway Stewart wants to leave his audience with, which is why that mid-credits coda is important for Irresistible viewers to take in.

Mixing a very politically charged message with sharp humor, and a very big heart, Jon Stewart’s Irresistible is an entertaining vehicle for a deeply important message. Imbued with purpose, and an ensemble of performers blessed with expert comedic timing, you could find yourself entertained on top of educated. So if you’ve seen Irresistible, or have been worried about whether you should give it a shot after all of the bad buzz, let this ending guide inspire you to give this film a fighting chance. Irresistible is currently available for premium VOD rental, waiting for you, the audience, to cast your ballots.

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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.