Election (1999)

Reviewed By PyThomas
Posted 07/06/99 14:35:39

"It's as soap-in-a-school as it gets. Call it 'All My Pupils'."
5 stars (Awesome)

Shit, I wish MY high school years were this scandalous.

The biggest controversy that involved Ball High School happened after I graduated, when the clinic made condoms available to students for free. (Big fucking deal, you might say, but keep in mind that this is deep in Bible Belt country, where "Don't do it" is the basic sex education.) Other than that, not much has gone down in my alma mater.

No overachieving ingenues doin' the nasty with science teachers. No government teachers fixing student body elections out of jealousy and revenge. Certainly no student presidential candidates promising to abolish the whole student council if elected.

We hear the narrative voice-over of Election from four angles:

Tracy Flick (Reese "Can You Believe I'm A Mommy?" Witherspoon) - the ambitious, overachieving socialite at George Washington Carver High School in Omaha. She REALLY wants to win the election for Student Council President, to the point where she's coming to class at six in the morning to decorate the halls, and decorating 400 cupcakes with "Pick Flick" to hand out to her prospective voters. She's running unopposed at first, until the campaign gets some extra involvement from...

Jim McAllister (Matthew "Don't Call Me Ferris Bueller" Broderick) - the government teacher that holds a gnawing grudge against Tracy. Aside from jealousy of her overflowing ambition, he knows she had an affair with his co-worker and best friend, the science teacher down the hall (though it wasn't really her fault this happened). Unfortunately, he has a tragic flaw of his own... he lusts after his friend's estranged wife. But that doesn't stop him from finding someone to run against Tracy Flick, someone like...

Paul Metzler (Chris "American Pie Alumnus" Klein) - star quarterback for the Carver Wolverines until a serious leg fracture (on a ski trip) put him out of the game for his high school career. He's popular with his classmates, he's simple-minded and of good character - a perfect candidate to be a presidential, um, candidate. No sooner than he enters the race that he is joined by his own sister...

Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell) - a lesbian-in-training who runs for president out of pure jealousy. See, her lover was just experimenting with lesbianism, and she wasn't so hot about it anymore. And now she's dating her brother Paul, a triangle that would drive any spurned lover to vengeful maneuvers such as the one she takes through the elections.

The aforementioned subplots really don't contribute much to the main story - they seem to be there for extra laughs and then prematurely evaporate into thin air. Fortunately, that doesn't take away from the high-stakes-soap-opera story unfolding between Miss Flick and Mr. McAllister. Only the student-teacher feud in Rushmore scores higher in terms of cattiness and intrigue.

Election deserves all the favorable reviews it's been getting. It's well-acted, well-scripted (more or less), and viciously funny. And did I mention it's from the same people who gave us Dead Man On Campus and Beavis & Butt-head Do America? This is like finding out that the scruffy-looking street hot dog vendor working the streets of the Warehouse District with his beat-up handcart moonlights as the master chef at the five-star restaurant uptown. Someone over at MTV Films is putting extra effort into THEIR job.

"I like to watch the power station."

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