Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

After too many high school satire flops, Election is right on the button. Its plot progesses smoothly from another week in the life of a dedicated teacher to catastrophic emotional upheavals that have life changing effects.

Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) wants to be student president. She's the only candidate until Mr McAllister (Matthew Broderick) intervenes. As one of the student government advisers and most popular teacher - voted three times (a record) - he feels it is his right, for the sake of democracy, to persuade Paul Metzler (Chris Klein), injured star of the football team, to stand against her. Actually, his real motive is different. He finds Tracy's overzealous enthusiasm and naked ambition a threat. Also, she was responsible for his best friend being sacked. But that's another story (told here in brief).

Copy picture

Paul's rebelious adopted sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell), decides to stand as a nihilist candidate. She wants to get her own back on girlfriend Lisa (Frankie Ingrassia) for going with Paul instead of her. Also, she hates Tracy, school and the whole election thing, which makes her instantly acceptable with the bad boys. Meanwhile, McAllister's home life is sharpening for injury, as Tracy takes matters into her own hands.

Witherspoon gives one of those performances that obliterates all before her. She is breathtakingly funny, supported by Broderick in one of his controlled panic roles. The film has an individual style, thanks to director Alexander Payne, and a witty script that never overreaches itself. When it sees a top, it doesn't hurl itself over. It takes a leaf out of Tammy's book: "Sometimes when I'm sad, I sit and watch the power station."

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
Share this with others on...
Election packshot
Scathing high school comedy.
Amazon link

Director: Alexander Payne

Writer: Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell, Phil Reeves, Molly Hagan, Delaney Driscoll, Mark Harelik, Colleen Camp, Frankie Ingrassia, Joel Parks

Year: 1999

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA


EIFF 1999

Search database:

Related Articles:

Hidden gems in plain sight

If you like this, try:

Legally Blonde