ELECTION (1999)

TMG Scale 8.0
Starring Mathew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell

Joy Lynn and TMG: This is a funny, offbeat and often random comedy coupled with some great acting by Mathew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. Viewer Warning: Be prepared for some sexual content that will make you uncomfortable if you are watching this movie with your teen! This is very much a mature adult movie. It’s very funny,  but not really targeted for a high school audience that provide the medium for the story. Not that any high school kid will be too shocked. They just wont “get” the film.

Election is based on a novel by Tom Perrotta.  And our assumption is the movie is better than the book!  We certainly enjoyed it. Why read when you can watch the movie?

This movie tells the story of a high school election that focuses on a history teacher and civics advisor named Jim McAllister (Broderick) and a student named Tracy Flick (Witherspoon). On the surface, Tracy is one of those students that your mom thinks you should be like. She plays a sharp attractive student who is a natural born leader, active in school government, gets good grades and is an over achiever that doesn’t have a lot of close friends besides her mom. Just beneath her veneer surface though she is a compulsive, neurotic over achiever with little conscience. [Of note is Witherspoon is 23 when she played 18 year old Tracy,  but she is a master of the  mannerisms of a bratty 13 year old.] Witherspoon was made for this role and milks it to the hilt. [It was great practice for a more affectionate Elle Woods two years later in Legally Blonde (2001).]

When the school election comes around, Tracy is an automatic shoe in for student council president.  McAllister, as the student government advisor, realizes he will have to spend an entire year working closely with Tracy if she wins the election.  He has some well-founded resentment towards Tracy as she recently “hooked up” with his fellow teacher and best friend and takes no shame or responsibility for it.  A provocative issue, but barely touched on, is whether she should bear responsibility or shame.

McAllister convinces Paul Metzer (Klein), one of the most popular football players in the high school and the nicest guy ever, to run against her. Paul’s younger sister Tammy (Campbell) decides to run too, which stems from her jealous feelings towards her brother’s girlfriend. (There is a lesbian “thing” at the root of all this.)

This movie takes life in the real world and plays it out through a few days in the life of a typical middle class high school near Omaha, Nebraska. Personal relationships, infidelity, politics, employment issues, loyalty, friends and competition are all explored through sharp comedy. All the tension, discord and competition between the leading characters make for fun comedy well worth watching.

 

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