Election really surprised
me. I mean, it's a movie about high school
produced by MTV
, how could it be good? But it surprised me. I think the main appeal is that its not some stupid teen fluff
film designed to make teenagers
laugh at the life they wish they had.
The movie revolves primarily around two characters. Matthew Broderick plays Jim McAllister, a high school teacher, and Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick, your average high school over-achiever. Broderick is, how shall we say, a loser. He's your typical nice guy teacher, but something is just a bit off about him. Witherspoon does an amazing job, annoying and plain, and like an actual high school student, not a 17 year old sex symbol.
Early on, Broderick's friend and fellow teacher ends up having an affair with Witherspoon’s character, only to be caught and fired. Broderick gets a little miffed at her oh so perfect attitude and he believes that she was the one who really pushed the relationship. He sees her running for student body president and can't stand to see another mindless, annoying over-achiever get to the top. He feels he needs to stop her before she gets too full or herself and steps on people the rest of her life. He also can't stand the thought of having to work with her as the advisor for student government.
So, he gets the popular football kid (Chris Klein) to run against her. His younger sister also decides to run, to get back at her former girlfriend who decided she's not gay after all and is now dating her brother. So you've got a 3 way race between the girl who's name appears most times in the yearbook, the football player who's dumb but loved by everyone, and his angry younger lesbian sister. For Broderick, things go downhill from there as he loses his job for lying about who won the election, and his wife leaves him after learning he is having an affair with his friends wife.
Really, it's a pretty simple plot. The writing is well done and the acting is great. Witherspoon nails the preppy high school girl, Broderick is perfectly spineless and pathetic, and even Chris Klein manages to pull a respectable performance out of his ass. The principal's character is especially well done, just the right amount of cluelessness... And I think the thing that makes this movie stand out is that it's fairly realistic. The setting is a real small town with a real school. The chalkboards are dirty, the chairs are cheap plastic, the walls are annoying bright cinderblock, and the office furniture is old vinyl. Even the cast themselves are plain, not your typical 90210 cast of oddly attractive men and women. An excellent movie, although it had a hard time finding the right audience to appreciate it.