Election (1999)

election poster 1999 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great, fun film, Tracy Flick is a perfect antihero


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Election

Studio:  Bona Fide Productions/MTV Films/Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  April 23, 1999

MPAA Rating:  R

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There’s one in every class

Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) has a dream of elected office.  She tries to live her dream and has spent her years to achieve it…and she’s only in high school.  Tracy will stop at nothing to get the position, but when Tracy finds herself at odds with a popular history teacher named Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), Tracy finds herself in the fight of her life…as Jim McAllister discovers his perfect life is falling apart.

Directed by Alexander Payne, Election is a dark comedy political satire.  It was based on Election by Tom Perrotta with Payne and Jim Taylor adapting the story.  The film fared ok at the box office but became a cult hit after its release.   The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adaptation.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #904).

I loved Election immediately when I saw it in the theater.  The smart script and great cast really nailed the absurdity of the situation, but also managed to make the story real and relevant.  A rewatch of Election shows that the film has endured…and may even be better than when it was released.

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Everyone knew (or knows) a Tracy Flick…in fact one of the best parts of the film is that all the characters are relatable.  Tracy is the typical overachiever that equates titles and recognition with popularity and success…but they are also miserable.  Likewise, McAllister is miserable himself.  He can see Tracy for what she is (an unapologetic climber), and it drives him insane…he allows this to mix with his personal life and everything spirals out of control.

While Witherspoon and Broderick are perfect (it is also fun to see Broderick play the flip side to his Ferris Bueller), they are surrounded by a great cast.  Chris Klein was discovered by Payne while shooting the film and is a good (but likeable) dumb jock.  Jessica Campbell is the wild card “Ross Perot” type character that speaks the truth…school elections (and many elections) are just wordplay that does not change anything except the person elected.  I also feel Phil Reeves plays the perfect high school principal.

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I’m having a really bad week…

The movie is boosted by clever shooting and editing.  It intentionally picks a rather mundane location, and it feels very Midwestern…it could be any school.  The editing is slick with intentionally bad freeze frames that say about as much about the characters as other view them.

Election is a great “modern” film.  It is fun and full of great characters that stay with you when you finish it.  The movie holds up.  If you can have Christmas movies at Christmastime and horror movies at Halloween time, you should add Election Day movies to your viewing, and Election definitely needs a spot on that list.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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