REVIEW: ELECTION (1999)

CAST

Matthew Broderick (Godzilla)
Reese Witherspoon (This Means War)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Jessica Campbell (The Safety of Objects)
Mark Harelik (That 70s Show)
Phil Reeves (13Going on 30)
Molly Hagan (IZombie)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham)

Tracy (Reese Witherspoon) is an overachieving senior in suburban George Washington Carver High School (where the student body is all white). What Tracy wants, she gets, using a combination of single-minded hard work, bright smiles as phony as a television infomercial, eager volunteering and a ruthlessness that varies between chirpiness and squinted eyes.Image result for election (1999)Then one of Tracy’s teachers, Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), decides the world needs to be saved from Tracy. He talks one of the school’s popular football athletes to run against Tracy. From now on Jim has his hands full trying to sabotage Tracy’s relentless campaign, impregnate his wife, convince himself his next door neighbor, a recent divorcee, is really going to understand him if they can only check into a motel for a couple of hours…and deal with the consequences of everything he set in motion.https://i0.wp.com/cineplex.media.baselineresearch.com/images/78881/78881_full.jpgElection, written and directed by Alexander Payne, is one of the funniest, darkest satires of human behavior since Jonathan Swift recommended that the poor should simply sell their children to be eaten by the rich. There are a lot of teenagers in this movie, but it’s not just another teen-age movie. We’re looking at the ludicrous depths to which ambition and good intentions, when mixed with politics, can take us. If that seems ponderous, it’s about as ponderous as Tracy Flick’s mom writing compulsively to people like Connie Chung and Elizabeth Dole asking for advice.The script moves from the exaggerated to the outlandish with great style. The actors deliver the goods with deadpan sincerity and self-serving honesty. Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick hits the bull’s-eye with unnerving accuracy. She is so sincere in her insincerity, which is, in Tracy Flick’s own way, completely sincere, that Witherspoon makes us smile and shudder at the same time. As outstanding as she is, Matthew Broderick is the heart of the movie. Jim McAllister is part lech, part nebbish, but mostly good guy. It’s a funny, almost poignant performance. Payne’s script and Broderick’s acting give us a perfect ending that’s just as brittle, cool and amusing as the rest of the movie.