Election (1999)

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Movie Info & Cast

Synopsis

In this satirical comedy, a hotly contested high school election becomes a metaphor for the current state of American politics. Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) is a popular and well-respected instructor at George Washington Carver High School in Omaha, Nebraska, but lately he's been unhappy in both his personal and professional life, and his anxieties finally come to a head with the school's student elections. Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is running for student body president, and she certainly seems like the sort of girl who would win a high school election -- she's pretty, popular and takes part in all the right extra-curricular activities. In fact, she seems so perfect she's running unopposed, which offends McAllister's sense of democracy (not to mention the fact he doesn't like her very much). So Jim intervenes and persuades Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy. Paul is not terribly bright and is entirely unqualified to be student president, but as a star of the school's football team (before a leg injury sidelined him), he's popular enough to at least give Tracy a run for her money. Just as the race begins to heat up, a spanner is truly thrown into the works when Paul's sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell) announces she's also running for office. Publicly, Tammy's platform is that the student elections are ultimately pointless and if she's elected, she'll eliminate them altogether. Privately, Tammy is out for revenge against her brother; it seems Tammy is experimenting with her sexuality, and a recent fling with a bisexual classmate named Lisa (Frankie Ingrassia) ended when Lisa dumped her to start going out with Paul. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, Election was directed by Alexander Payne, who won enthusiastic reviews for his debut feature, Citizen Ruth; Payne also co-wrote the screenplay with Jim Taylor.~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Cast

  • Matthew Broderick
  • Reese Witherspoon
  • Chris Klein
  • Jessica Campbell
  • Mark Harelik
  • Phil Reeves
  • Molly Hagan
  • Delaney Driscoll
  • Colleen Camp
  • Frankie Ingrassia

Did You Know?

Trivia

  • When Tracy (Reese Witherspoon) rips up the posters of Paul (Chris Klein) in the school hallway, the theme from Navajo Joe (1966) (which was also used at the end of Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)) plays in the background.
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Goofs

  • When Paul is at the microphone giving thanks for his "victory", Tracy is seen in the background wearing a jacket with a zipper. In the previous scene and the one right after, she is wearing only a turtleneck.
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Quotes

    • [narrating]
    • Tammy Metzler: It's not like I'm a lesbian or anything. I'm attracted to the person. It's just that all the people I've been attracted to happen to be girls.
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Metacritic

100

With Election, Payne announces himself as one of the keenest purveyors of the scattered pieces that once was an American morality.

Metacritic review by Wesley Morris
Wesley Morris
San Francisco Examiner
100

An invigoratingly mordant comedy that proves that Alexander Payne's rambunctious debut, Citizen Ruth, was no fluke.

Metacritic review by Jay Carr
Jay Carr
Boston Globe
88

Alexander Payne is a director whose satire is omnidirectional. He doesn't choose an easy target and march on it. He stands in the middle of his story and attacks on all directions.

Metacritic review by Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times