Election was released as part of the fledgling MTV Films banner. The films’ box office failure was in great part due to the trailers that promised a goofy high school comedy when, in actuality, the movie is a subversive and very dark look at a complicated student/teacher relationships. It’s the exact type of smart filmmaking audiences have come to expect from Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor over the course of their 25-year careers.
Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) appears to have the election for student council president sewn up, she’s running unopposed for the third consecutive year. This doesn’t sit well with tenured teacher Mr. McAllister (Matthew Broderick), especially after Tracy’s sexual fling with a fellow teacher resulted in no consequences for the young overachiever. So, McAllister rounds up a worthy opponent to run against Flick, a popular football player with low ambitions and a real chance to upset the perennial winner of the school’s election.
Election is one of 1999’s most subversive and biting satires. Too bad the ineffective marketing that was done by MTV Films and parent company Paramount wasn’t able to get audiences in the door for this great flick. Some have compared Election’s themes and tones to Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, but for my tastes Election is the far more enjoyable film. Witherspoon nails her obnoxious character with gusto and she fully embodies both the negative and positive attributes of Tracy Flick.
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein