Election (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Election (1999)



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

Movie Info

In this satirical comedy, a hotly contested high school election becomes a metaphor for the current state of American politics. Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) is a popular and well-respected instructor at George Washington Carver High School in Omaha, Nebraska, but lately he's been unhappy in both his personal and professional life, and his anxieties finally come to a head with the school's student elections. Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is running for student body president, and she certainly seems like the sort of girl who would win a high school election -- she's pretty, popular and takes part in all the right extra-curricular activities. In fact, she seems so perfect she's running unopposed, which offends McAllister's sense of democracy (not to mention the fact he doesn't like her very much). So Jim intervenes and persuades Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy. Paul is not terribly bright and is entirely unqualified to be student president, but as a star of the school's football team (before a leg injury sidelined him), he's popular enough to at least give Tracy a run for her money. Just as the race begins to heat up, a spanner is truly thrown into the works when Paul's sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell) announces she's also running for office. Publicly, Tammy's platform is that the student elections are ultimately pointless and if she's elected, she'll eliminate them altogether. Privately, Tammy is out for revenge against her brother; it seems Tammy is experimenting with her sexuality, and a recent fling with a bisexual classmate named Lisa (Frankie Ingrassia) ended when Lisa dumped her to start going out with Paul. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, Election was directed by Alexander Payne, who won enthusiastic reviews for his debut feature, Citizen Ruth; Payne also co-wrote the screenplay with Jim Taylor.more
Rating: R (strong sexuality, sex related dialogue amd language, and a scene of drug use.)
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 19, 1999
Paramount Pictures. - Official Site


Matthew Broderick
as Jim McAllister
Reese Witherspoon
as Tracy Flick
Chris Klein
as Paul Metzler
Jessica Campbell
as Tammy Metzler
Colleen Camp
as Judith R. Flick
Frankie Ingrassia
as Lisa Flanagan
Delaney Driscoll
as Linda Novotny
Mark Harelik
as Dave Novotny
Holmes Osborne
as Dick Metzler
Jeanine Jackson
as Jo Metzler
Frankie Igrassia
as Lisa Flanagan
Phil Reeves
as Walt Hendricks
Loren Nelson
as Custodian
Joel Parks
as Jerry Slavin
Matt Malloy
as Vice Principal Ron B...
Larry Kaiser
as Chemistry Teacher
Molly Hagan
as Diane McAllister
Matt Justesen
as "Eat Me" Boy
Nick Kenny
as "Eat Me" Boy's Buddy
Brian Tobin
as Adult Video Actor
Christa Young
as Adult Video Actress
David Wenzel
as Tracy's Friend Eric
Marilyn Tipp
as Carver Office Lady
Jeannie Brayman
as Faculty Ballot-Giver
James Devney
as Motel Clerk
L. Carmen Novoa
as Spanish Teacher
Jason Paige
as Kid in Georgetown Ha...
Emily Martin
as Girl in Crisis
Jonathan Marion
as Classroom Student Er...
Matt Golden
as Kid in Georgetown Ha...
Amy Falcone
as Classroom Student Mi...
Heather Koenig
as Kid in Georgetown Ha...
Nick D'Agosto
as Larry Fouch
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Election

Critic Reviews for Election

All Critics (105) | Top Critics (23)

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

Full Review… | August 24, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | August 24, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | August 24, 2010
Associated Press
Top 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.

Full Review… | August 25, 2007
Boston Globe
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 18, 2006
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Election


An amusing satirical film that may take more than one viewing for us to grasp its subtle, dark humor and the sharp irony of what it wants to say involving ethics and morality - and it benefits immensely from some very nuanced characters played by the actors in excellent performances.

Carlos Magalh„es

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.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

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