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Election (1999)

tomatometer

92

Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 104
Fresh: 96 | Rotten: 8

Election successfully combines dark humor and intelligent writing in this very witty and enjoyable film.

91

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 2

Election successfully combines dark humor and intelligent writing in this very witty and enjoyable film.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 59,963

My Rating

Movie Info

Tracey Flick is running unopposed in this year's high school student council presidential election. But school civics teacher Jim McAllister decides to talk varsity football player Paul Metzler in to running, partly to establish a more democratic election and partly to get at Tracey, another teacher's paramour.

R,

Comedy

Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Oct 19, 1999

Paramount Pictures. - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (105) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (96) | Rotten (8) | DVD (27)

The treatment of this touchy material is impressive, neither gratuitous nor mincing, but this 1999 satirical comedy doesn't really go anywhere.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An instant classic, Alexander Payne's 1999 high school comedy seems even more scathing now that we're losing control of our own election machinery.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Election at first has the feel of a simple work. But don't let that fool you; it's a complex, deep tale.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Associated Press
Associated Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You've got to laugh at Witherspoon's tightly wound Little Miss Perfect, rising at dawn to do her hair and encase herself in a preppy look before baking cupcakes to pass out at school as vote-getters in her campaign for student council president.

August 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A dark, insidiously funny satire on the self-involved ways otherwise rational people can allow narrow personal agendas to lead them astray to the point of self-destruction.

February 18, 2006 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This remarkable film may be set in high school, but its satiric take on moral corruption, political chicanery, adultery and seduction is anything but juvenile.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Payne and Taylor are equal opportunity satirists and their sly wit dismantles everything from high school culture to suburban complacency.

December 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

This clever, biting high-school satire is arguably Alexander Payne's most original and accomplished film (and so far he has made only good pictures).

August 17, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Dark high school comedy is best for older teens.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Surprise! An intelligent, well-written high school story that offers some real ideas to chew on, rather than simply wallowing in nubile flesh.

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Took the sleaze of the teen comedy and spun it into something that's both hugely entertaining and extremely insightful.

February 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Views

A funny and horrifying allegory of American politics and adult society, as seen through the prism--or shall we say "prison"?--that is secondary education. [Blu-ray]

January 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Maybe its only real fault is that it's a little too close to the truth to be as funny as it could be.

January 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

[A] wicked, carnal comedy.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

The script, based on a Tom Perrotta novel, is tight and elegant.

July 30, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Alarmingly insightful.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
Big Picture Big Sound

...a surprisingly compelling piece of work..

July 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Kudos to Payne and Taylor for their courage, balance, and humor.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Beuller?... Beuller? Where's Ferris? Oh, there he is on the floor. Brought to his knees and he still hasn't learned anything.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Production, set, costume and photography all help give the film a crisp look, capturing the inherent mid-western feel provided by the Omaha, Nebraska locale.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Audience Reviews for Election

A seriously witless, humorless comedy that wants to play with the ideas of morality and ethics but is clearly lost about where it wants to go, and the fact that its many unlikable characters never display any of the two makes it boring real fast, with nothing for us to care about.
January 9, 2014
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

*Sigh* If only more high school films could be of the same quality as this. Calling it a "high school" film though, is a litle tricky, as that terms seems to have some unfavorable connotations around it. I use it because it is set at a high school, and involves students and teachers, but it really transcends that arena, and thus shouldn't be compared to something like, Not Another Teen Movie, which, while funny at times, is just a poor mess...it also happens to spoof this movie.

The story here concerns a nice and popular teacher named Jim McAllister who tries to be really enthusiastic about his job as a way of hiding his frustrations and feelings of dissatisfaction with other parts of his life. Mr. McAllister is bound and determined to stop Tracy Flick from winning the election for student body president. Tracy is the classic Type A overachiever who will stop at nothing to find success and happiness. She can be nice and friendly, but is deep down hiding a dark side of vindictiveness and manipulation.

McAllister convinces a popular ex-jock to run against Tracy, hoping that she will lose, and learn a nice lesson in humility. What ends up happening though is a nutty story about finding out that trying to stop someone like Tracy is something one would be better off just avoiding.

This is a wickedly funny and darkly satiric film that just feels right with Alexander Payne as co-writer and director. The film is adapted from a novel I haven't read, but the script is really sharp and really nails the world of overly ambitious overachievers and the people who can't stand them. This isn't quite as dark as I was thinking it might be, but despite the quirky tone, this is still a film with a lot of bite to it.

I just loved the little details to the characters and they way it was all edited together. There's a lot of voice over, but it works just fine, and I liked that the start followed multiple characters, even if it mostly focused on just McAllister and Tracy. In a way, this reminded me of Rushmore, but I think this is a better film, and the quirkiness isn't overwhelming. It's used as an exclamation point. Not that Rushmore isn't good, I just find it to be a tad overrated.

The casting is just dynamite. Matthew Broderick, who is more off than on with his acting, is quite good here, and this ties with Ferris Bueller as his best work. He really nails the everyday schlub who you want to like, but can't totally get on board with. That's how it is with Tracy too. You want to like her, but even she is hard to fully sympathize with. That's what makes this all so much fun and entertaining though. Apparently Thora Birch was supposed to be in, but left due to creative differences. I figure she was supposed to play Tracy (or possibly Tammy), and even though I love her, Reese totally owns as Tracy and is brilliant. So too is Jessica Campbell a burn out lesbian who joins the election race in order to expose elections as the sham they really are. She comes close to stealing the show and I'd love to see her in more productions.

Payne has become one of my favorite filmmakers, and so far, he's not had a miss yet. Give this one a watch, it's some great stuff.
July 11, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Terrific!
July 11, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Definitely one of Reese Witherspoon's best roles. She is perfect for the part of overachiever, Tracey Flick. I have to admit to a certain fondness for Tracey. I have seen this movie many times over the years, and though all I have seen it with find her awful, I have always seen her in a quite sympathetic light. I think this is due to how Reese plays her. Yes, she is grating, but there is a vulnerability to her also.
The rest of the cast are also good. I find Matthew Broderick totally sniffling here - I dislike his character more than Tracey's! (Matthew plays him well, I just don't like the character at all). Also Chris Klein and Jessica Campbell. Just a really good black comedy set in high school. Well worth seeing.
April 14, 2012
romy861

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Election (1999) (DE)
  • Election (UK)
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