Finally, a film to shake me from the doldrums of a post-Taco Bell, I mean, Star Wars numbheaded boredom fest! Election looks to be, on the outside, another teen movie – I mean, it has *Reese Witherspoon* (who very possibly is gestating on screen as we watch) in it as a girl named Tracy Flick running for student council president – who wouldn’t initially dismiss it as a teen movie? Matthew Broderick, still baby faced and wearing a dab of unconvincing hair grey, plays his actual age in this one. The supporting cast is largely (but not utterly) unfamiliar faces doing totally familiar, real, understandable (even if deplorable) things, and coming off nicely.
Election is a yummy black comedy, with some interesting filmmaking tricks that somehow don’t manage to seem stupid, contrived, or overplayed (a rarity!) and are also actually service to the story. More “adults” I have run into who have seen it have really liked it, and I would have thought they would all have given it a wide berth – including my newest subscriber whose card I got right before I saw the movie! (Hi, D!) But it’s true!
Uniquely, Election has four narrators, four points of view (though two, Witherspoon and Broderick are the most dominant) and that and the exceptionally natural, unselfconscious performances make Election totally winning (sorry). A totally normal seeming chain of events careens terribly off course, and makes for some interesting broken dominoes along its path – and some serious yuks that sometimes are too painful to admit to laughing at. Is that a sentence? …and some serious yuks that are sometimes too painful to admit that they are at which you are laughing? Ugh. Anyway, you know what I mean? Even the profanity is used in a smart way. Some frank love scenes (or maybe they were the more embarrassing since I saw it with my dad) which actually guide the story along, nothing obligatory or even randomly unnecessary – very concise and clever and amusing.
Let’s digress for a moment. Everyone always says that my negative reviews are better than my positive ones, but the reason I give positive reviews is of course to get people to go out there and see these movies and give money to the studios that took a chance on what was clearly a long bet. Election is a funny, smart, cool movie (dig Reese’s crazy warrior music) and there are so many more ways to denigrate than to praise, in my world, that I don’t think I can, in words, do a movie justice without you, Gentle Readers, taking that leap of faith and checking out for yourself. And in an era when this movie, which clearly cost them about $12 to make, is literally 50-500 times more entertaining than an overproduced vapid slice of poo like The Flaunting Maggots, this is when your vote counts, people! Go to the theatres and pay your good, hard earned money (I hear it’s past $9 in NYC!) to see something that you might conceivably want to recommend to someone, rather than something you are pressured to see by a bunch of freaks standing in line for 3 weeks. Channel that line-standing energy into, I don’t know, recycling or planting trees or doing a walkathon for a disease, and spend your cash on a movie that is worthy of your money, worthy of your time talking about it at the watercooler the next day (or over the sneeze guard or the monkey cage, whatever)!
Sorry, Dennis Miller came into my house, drunk (so he wasn’t as clever) and rubber banded his fingers to mine and out came that.
My point is (and I do have one), Election is very funny, it is well made, it is interesting, engaging, well-acted, nicely shot, and worth spending your money on. Show some discretion out there, people, or the studios will make an epic period love story starring Ricky Martin, Madonna, and Juliette Lewis, and it will be your own damn fault.
MPAA Rating R strong sexuality, sex related language, drugs
Release date 5/7/99
Time in minutes 105
Director Alexander Payne
Studio Paramount Pictures