.

Election

Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein

Directed by Alexander Payne
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
May 7, 1999

Smart is not a word you'd use to describe most of the high school flicks now cluttering the multiplex. Election is a refreshing change. Director and co-screenwriter Alexander Payne - who took on abortion in his 1996 debut feature, Citizen Ruth - doesn't care who goes to the prom at George Washington Carver High. It's the race for student-body president that rivets Payne, who shot this adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel on location in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where things only seem quiet.

Note the raging ambition behind the fake smile on Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), the overachieving suck-up who's running for president unopposed. Tracy irritates the hell out of Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a much-favored teacher whose wife doesn't know about the porn films he stashes away at home. To quash Tracy, Jim persuades Paul Metzler (Chris Klein), a dumb but popular football jock, to enter the race. And wait - another candidate emerges: Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell), Paul's lesbian sister. Tammy is so pissed that her lover, Lisa (Frankie Ingrassia), has started giving Paul blow jobs that she sets up a third party dedicated to overthrowing student government.

In short, it's a death match. Payne skewers hypocrisy on all sides of the political spectrum as he parodies the 1992 presidential race, with Ross Perot as the spoiler, and places the roots of corruption right in the classroom. Despite lapses in energy and tone, Election is a moral fable with rare comic bite. Broderick excels as a role model who is not above a quick fix. And Witherspoon, her jaw set like a junior Ken Starr, makes Tracy a hilarious hellcat ready to clean up everyone's ethical ills but her own. As he did with Laura Dern in Citizen Ruth, Payne brings out unexpected fire and wit in Witherspoon, whose memorable portrait of young democracy on the march is the stuff of laughs and lasting nightmares.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Promiscuous”

    Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

    This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com