Worth A Look: 38.46%
Pretty Bad: 0.51%
Total Crap: 0.51%
18 reviews, 87 user ratings
by Dust For Eyes
Contrary to what some people may think, I don't go giddy and weak at the knees every time I hear the sound of a film projector and see every film I possibly can. 'American Pie' for instance I would not bother seeing for a very good reason. That very good reason is 'Election'Teen films - you've got to hate them.
"Delivers on its promises"
Especially the variety that give us a sterile, one-dimensional view of what teenagers are like. Are you like that? Were you like that? Do you want to be like that?
Obnoxious, cliché characters, played by actors in their twenties, who are far too obsessed about the looks and who to sleep with. Where does all the money come from for the cars and clothes?
Yes, you've got to hate teen films . . .
Nah, I like them,
There have been some really good ones amongst the admittedly bad ones. '10 Things I Hate About You' and 'Cruel Intentions' recently. 'Flirting' 'Pump Up The Volume' and 'Heathers' a while ago. For Broderick's sake I'll mention 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' and for my flat mate, 'Puberty Blues.' All of those films range from entertaining to worthwhile.
There are some awful ones, but we shouldn't disregard the genre.
I had some misgivings about this film before I saw 'Election' - MTV productions, a teen film that has a guy from 'American Pie' in it, an empty theatre. All bad omens for a film.
'Election' casts aside these handicaps and gives a fierce view into the world of high school politics.
Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) is the perfect student. Pretty, she's motivated, positive, excels in her studies, her hand is always up first when the teacher asks a question, she's involved in extra-curricular activities like the school year book and social committees. She's going places.
In other words, she is the most hateful thing on this and neighbouring planets.
History teacher, Jim McAllister (Broderick) agrees, and decides to set up some competition for Tracy, as she's the only one who's nominated for student body president. He convinces injured-football-hero, all-round-nice-guy, means-well-but-ultimately-a-bit-dim Paul (Klein doing his best young Keanu Reeves impersonation) to also enter the race.
Paul's outcast sister, Tammy (Campbell) also decides to run. Partly to get back at her brother's girlfriend (Ingrassia), partly to mock the whole student political system, but mostly to cause trouble and get herself expelled so she can go to the nearby catholic girls school. She runs on an S.F.W. platform to show her disgust in student politics.
Tracy is not all that happy in the McAllisters running in the election, but she's motivated, gun-ho and feels she'll win anyway. The unexpected developments though reveal cracks in her pristine façade. Will she lose it completely? She wants to win so much - what will she stoop to?
The best thing about 'Election' is how it takes its basis of a typical teen film and then uses that as a launching pad for far more interesting things. The characters are introduced as if they were taken directly from the How To Make A Teen Film Book, but then gradually we are introduced to new layers.
The film has the unusual yet effective feature of four narrators - Tracy, Paul, Tammy and Jim. This allows us to get into the minds of the four people and to give them a bit more depth.
The four leads do a good job in their performances in steering their characters away from the clichés. Considering her history, Witherspoon is perfectly cast as Tracy and is pretty much faultless. Broderick was probably a bit young to be cast as Jim (the fake gray hair is fooling nobody), but I guess that makes up for the 23 year old Witherspoon playing a schoolgirl.
Writer/Director Alexander Payne had previously dealt with the issue of abortion in 'Citizen Ruth.' That should tell you that he is not interested in light frivolous films. He has a nice style and the use of freeze frames was a nice touch. He did a great job with Witherspoon's Tracy.
"Democratic clean and lawful,
Awful awful awful awful."
- Michael Leunig
You can leave this film as simply being entertained, or if you feel so inclined think about school politics and politics in general.'Election' gives much more than you might have initially expected from a teen film. Giving more than expected would be a good lesson for politics.
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originally posted: 10/12/99 23:58:02