Oh the Tangled Web We Weave
May 23, 2000
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Great plot, characters, and satire all working in unison
O wretched high school, how can I curse you in an original manner now that Election has cast light on your darkest depths? Truly, I can't. In a single broad stroke, Election has smartly bonked high school (and a few other deserving targets) directly on their heads.
Recommend this product?
Election (say it like a Chinese waiter and you will have found the secret motive for the characters), begins with annoying over-achiever Tracy Flick (played with subtle glee by Reese Witherspoon) running unopposed in the race for student council president. Student council advisor, Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick in his least irritating role since Ferris Beuller), hates her guts and would do anything to prevent spending the entire next year with Tracy in student council meetings. So he persuades the popular, eager to please, dopey jock, Paul Metzler (brilliant first-timer Chris Klien) to run against her. Of course, the election doesn't end up so simple, but I'll say no more.
What makes Election work so well is the rare combination of great characters, plot, and satire. Every character is crisply developed through excellent use of internal monologue and expositional flashbacks. While the voice over internal monologue can be irritating (Playing God or Blade Runner), here it works wonders. We get full views of all characters, so there is no clear good guy or bad guy, just a bunch of guys (gals, too). Everyone will come away from this movie identifying with a different main character.
Following the plot is just following the characters. Refreshingly, the plot is almost purely driven by the characters and not by a menacing computer generated external influence or a series of bizarre incidences. Each time something else complicates the election, it's usually the fault of one of the characters. To kiss Election's writers' butts even more, these characters are given motives that don't directly relate to the election or how they end up complicating it. So when Mr. McAllister asks Paul to run in the election, it's not because he want Paul to win or even that he wants Tracy to lose, there's a deeper motive that can be gleaned from the tale - but to tell you would be to give away the good parts.
This movie is chock full of creamy satirical goodness. In nailing the school election, this flick manages to catch a slew of other topics: politics in general, marriage, sex, popularity, and others that my puny mind cannot fathom. It's done beautifully in a comedy of situation. I found myself laughing out loud at little things, while my girlfriend sat quietly. For example, when the teacher is trying to put the moves on the high school girl, he suavely pops on 70s-style makeout music while she sits sipping a root beer. The moment was so awkward and absurd that I couldn't help but laugh at them.
Just as a side note, this isn't a kids movie, maybe not even a teenagers movie, as it contains plenty of strong sexual content (though surprisingly nipple-free). And I don't think your kids would appreciate the humor quite yet. Give them a few years, once they've left high school.
Read more product reviews on Election (DVD, 1999, Checkpoint)
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