Projections - Movie Reviews


There is an unworthy cynicism in Election which is based on a novel by Tom Perrotta.  Perrotta admits to being intrigued by Ross Perot and the idea of a "wild card" in an election.  Election lives on sophomoric logic that everything is corrupt.  It paints the most popular student as relentless in getting what she wants, the star football player as a dumb jock and teachers as leering sexually oppressed failures.  The only balanced character is Tammy Metzier (Jessica Campbell) a lesbian who clearly knows what she wants.  She becomes the third party candidate.

The logic is troubling but the screen play and performances are sparkling.  In the end it is clear that the sins should be forgiven.  This is a clever bright exciting film.

Practically perfect Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is a high achiever and she wants to be the student government president.  The track is clear until teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) begins to see her as a monster in the making.  That is particularly so when his fellow teacher Dave Novotny (Mark Harelik) is forced to resign following an affair with Flick.  McAllister encourages Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to challenge Flick.  He's a good candidate he has been wounded on the football battle field and is sporting a cast.  He has given all for the team and school.  His sister Tanny the third candidate insults the entire process to the delight of the student body.

Perhaps Broderick is getting his film comeuppance, forced to stand in front of kids each day attempting to teach math and government, it was his Ferris Bueller who ruined Jeffrey Jones who played Bueller's principal.   Broderick's mannerisms, movement and inflection drive the comic opera.  If Witherspoon is the star he is the heart of the sarcastic irreverent comedy that drives the characters into incredible situations and responses.  Chris Klein forms his character with body language and a voice like Crispin Glover from Back To The Future.  Witherspoon is a delight, she is exciting, frightening, accelerating, stunning and ugly all in one character that is determined to win.

In the end this is a very satisfying film.   Filled with frozen moments and faces in time director Alexander Payne captures the emotions both up and down of each character in an astute and captivating manner.  Election is a winner.

A Top Ten pick for 1999

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