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Election (1999)
Rated R

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Klein

Rating:
****1/2
out of
*****

Matthew Broderick played the unforgettable Ferris Bueller in 1986. Bueller was the student that thought the world was his stage and those around him were merely tools to use in the advancement of himself. In 1999, Broderick plays Jim McAllister a teacher who comes face-to-face with someone almost as manipulative and smug: Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon.)

Flick is one of the many unusual and realistic characters in Election, a film that is so frank about what it has to say that it's like a smack in the face when it says it. This is a film with a lot to say about morals and ethics, and the sometimes hard-to-define difference between the two.

McAllister is responsible for organizing the school's student council election. This year's election promises to be one to remember. Career-minded Tracy Flick is determined to win and she's more than happy to learn that she's the only candidate. For reasons I won't disclose, McAllister does not look forward to the prospect of having to deal with Flick's reign as president for a full year. So, he arranges for another student, popular former star athlete Paul Betlzer (Chris Klein), to run against her. For still more reasons I won't disclose, Paul's sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell), decides to run against them on a platform of "Who cares?"

Every character has a motive and a dirty secret. Well, almost all of them. Election doesn't have any real good characters or bad characters. Each of the many people that make up the world of Carver High School in this film are just like you and I. They're human. One can not ask more of a film than to have it deliver human characters. When they're in a comedy, it makes for some of the best and most identifiable humor possible.

Broderick is absolutely brilliant as McAllister. His trademark deadpan looks and body language fit this character perfectly. Witherspoon, who's been in some rather strange movies in the past, proves she's more than capable of handling roles with meat to them. Chris Klein, who plays the big dumb jock, is also very likeable.

This movie comes as a complete surprise because it comes from MTV Productions, of all places. Judging from past experience (Beavis & Butt-head Do America and Joe's Apartment,) MTV hasn't exactly been a hotbed for thought-provoking cinema. Hopefully, this movie will be a success and show them that its OK to target an audience who's older than those awaiting the next N'Sync video.

I highly recommend Election as the funniest movie I've seen in a long time.

Trivia: When the last name of the obnoxious character Tracy Flick is written in upper-case letters, it easily can be mistaken for a certain profane word. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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