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ELECTION

SYNOPSIS:
Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) has all he’s ever wanted at Omaha’s Carver High School. Three times Teacher of the Year, with both popularity and respect from the student body, he is a simple man who prides himself on his sense of integrity. This integrity is sorely tested as overachieving perfectionist Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) looks like winning the election for High School President unopposed. Somehow, the affable ‘Mr M’ just can’t allow this to happen and sets up injured football hunk Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to take her dream away. To further complicate matters Paul’s lesbian sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell) seeks vengeance by joining the race herself. Meanwhile, McAllister’s home life is looking a little on the shaky side ...

"Biting and black, Election is a delightful satire on ambition on campus. We study the over-zealous go-getter, not only from her own point of view, but also from that of her teacher, her popular rival and his impressionable lesbian sister. Tracy Flick is the name; over-achievement is her game. Flick is a cyclone waiting to hit and she intends to demolish anyone who gets in her way. There's a fluidity to Alexander Payne's keen eye and sharply written script; the structure never sags – we are always on edge, waiting for the next revelation. There's more to each of the characters, and there are surprises when you least expect them. Payne has gathered a splendid cast – with each member complementing the other. Reese Witherspoon is irresistible as the ambitious, scheming Flick. Pert and pretty, she is a wolf in sheep's clothing – a far cry from her role in Freeway. She not only exemplifies the voracious appetite of the power hungry, but colours her character with a real humanity. Matthew Broderick brings a richness of dimension to his well-meaning teacher role, smitten by a symbolic apple from the Garden of Temptation. Impressive in his first professional role is Chris Klein, whose laid-back popular sports hero is the total antithesis of Flick. The personalities of the main characters are perfectly shown in the scenes immediately before the election when they each say a little prayer. It's what they ask for that shows their intrinsic difference. There's music to keep your toes tapping – and enough antics and emotional gymnastics to keep us engaged. As for the morals and ethics of the story? And the result of the election that changes everyone's life? You'd better catch the film and find out."
Louise Keller

"Tracy Flick is a character you’ll never forget, though you know her already. She is the archetypal student body president, the blonde with the winning smile at your workplace who does everything perfectly, the woman in the BMW next to you who’s climbed the corporate ladder without a hair out of place (but with the blood of many an underling well and truly on her heels). Tracy Flick is a wonderful creation from second time director Alexander Payne, writer Tom Perrotta, and actress Reese Witherspoon, who finally emerges from blandsville roles to grab this character by the throat and play her for every moment she’s worth. Tracy Flick is the catalyst in this refreshing satire of American morality which questions virtually every symbol they hold near and dear - fidelity, religion, democracy, you name it. In an inspired piece of casting, Matthew Broderick, last seen in a high school as the irascible Ferris Bueller, plays the low key protagonist teacher who poses the question to his class; 'What is the difference between moral and ethical?' It is never fully answered in the dialogue but Payne’s unique directorial style gives us a full examination of the question in what is American society today. His is an assured hand. He gives us caricatures and cheesy dialogue yet elicits our empathy for each of the players. He uses voiceover to tell the story not just from one character’s point of view but from many. He uses freeze frames to counterpoint both action and words. He tells a story which is predictable but continually delights us with its observation. Much more than a high school comedy, this film should be seen by all who question what America has become, and those who don’t."
Lee Gough

"I must confess to some trepidation coming into this movie. The words "American", "high school" and "movie" in one sentence filled me with dread. But Election is far removed from some other recent fare set in learning institutions. This is about as sharp - and hilarious - a political allegory as you’re likely to find. No one is safe from director Alexander Payne’s blowtorch satire as he turns it on political animals of all persuasions. From Tracy with her ideas of self-ordained destiny to the flawed, frustrated (and ultimately, forlorn) would-be kingmaker Jim McAllister, Election is filled with wonderfully written characters. But Payne digs below the political surface to explore the deeper (baser?) emotions of his characters - lust, greed, and ambition. Matthew Broderick centres the film in a wonderful performance as McAllister, a man on a downward spiral largely of his own making. By the end, I really felt for him. Reese Witherspoon shows considerable range as the sweet but manipulative Tracy. Chris Klein is solid but has little to work with in the slow-witted but genuine Paul; while Jessica Campbell has some great moments as Tammy. Election is said to have been inspired by the Bush-Clinton-Perrot presidential race in 1992. Whilst there are similarities, the film isn’t about any one particular event. It’s about the system in general; and although it naturally uses America as its reference point, there’s plenty here for Australian audiences to ponder. Election is a funny and incisive look at power and what it does to people - and possibly the best political film since Primary Colours."
David Edwards

"Election is a multi-layered film with a moral (and the notion of morals and ethics is an early issue in the film), a deceptively simplistic rip on the surface with a hefty undertow that ends up taking us close to tragedy. The film touches on some profound issues to do with choices we make - and the potential (unknowable) repercussions of our actions, but does so in the guise of situation comedy. While not entirely successful in blending these elements, partly due to the direction pushing for larger than life comedic outcomes instead of the bitter sweet tragedies that, say, a European filmmaker might have sought, Election maintains its suspension of disbelief enough to take us into its hyper world. Workmanlike technical work from the crew deliver a film with no discernable seams - neither discernable greatness. The sometimes overly ambitious script is enhanced by high quality character actors who are able to tease out nuances which get us involved. . . We are involved, but when it comes to it, we can't quite shed a tear. But we do think about it."
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

ELECTION (M)
(US)

CAST: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell, Mark Harelik

PRODUCERS: Albert Berger, David Gale, Keith Samples, Ron Yerxa

DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne

SCRIPT: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (Novel byTom Perrotta)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: James Glennon

EDITOR: Kevin Tent

MUSIC: Rolfe Kent

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jane Ann Stewart

RUNNING TIME: 103 min

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 7, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: April 14, 2000 (Rental)
Sell-thru: October 6, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount







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