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USA | 1999 | 103 minutes | Alexander Payne

March 4, 2020

SIFF Movie Club

Alexander Payne's (Nebraska) second feature pits student Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) against the high school's civics teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) who is determined to sabotage her campaign for student body president.

Having knowledge of Flick's ruinous affair with another teacher, McAllister becomes driven to destroy her campaign. In his obsessive attempt to make sure she won't succeed in her bid for office, he recruits a popular school athlete (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta (Mrs. Fletcher), Alexander Payne follows up his debut Citizen Ruth with yet another politically minded satire, boiling down America's obsession with campaign politics to the smaller stage of a run for student government. But in the shift from macro to micro, Payne deliciously retains all the nastiness associated with political theater in what is perhaps the funniest high school film of the ‘90s.

"Every election seems to foreground intangibles—likability, relatability, beer-drinking—over substantive issues, such as policy. That's probably why it's so easy to graft the dynamics in Election onto the real-world political primaries and elections that have followed it, from Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama's out-of-nowhere cool to Hillary Clinton versus spoiled-rich-kid-slash-nihilist Donald Trump."—Elisabeth Donnelly, Vanity Fair

  • Director: Alexander Payne
  • Principal Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
  • Language: English