Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 112


Audience Score

User Ratings: 61,719
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Movie Info

In this satiric comedy, Jim McAllister 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. His anxieties finally come to a head as a result of the school's student elections.


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 Bell
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 Hall
Emily Martin
as Girl in Crisis
Jonathan Marion
as Classroom Student Eric
Matt Golden
as Kid in Georgetown Hall
Amy Falcone
as Classroom Student Michele
Heather Koenig
as Kid in Georgetown Hall
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News & Interviews for Election

Critic Reviews for Election

All Critics (112) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (103) | Rotten (9)

  • The comedy may not resonate as deeply as the well-named Payne intends, but between Witherspoon's exuberant solipsism and Broderick's talent for absorbing massive humiliation, the chuckles keep coming like poisoned darts.

    Mar 2, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

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

    Aug 24, 2010 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 24, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Election at first has the feel of a simple work. But don't let that fool you; it's a complex, deep tale.

    Aug 24, 2010 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 25, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Jay Carr

    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.

    Feb 18, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Elley

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Election

  • Sep 30, 2015
    Election is the type of satire where one is more likely to wince than laugh. It is a bit dark and edgy and is reminiscent of American Beauty. The performances are good, though a bit overwrought. Election, while not thoroughly enjoyable, is a still a remarkable film.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2015
    Yesterday was a terrible day for me, so I put off this review for a while to gather my bearings. I digress, so moving on. Now the only 90s intellectual high school comedy that I've left to watch is Rushmore. Perhaps intellectual is a wrong description for this film, it definitely very smart indeed. But I think intellectual implies that it might go over people's heads. And I don't wanna say the story is 'simple', because it's not, but this movie has a great way of telling its story. Great in the sense that it's easy to get into and it's easy to invest. This isn't exactly what I would call broad comedy, but I think it would still be enjoyed by people who don't even appreciate this kind of film. That's how well-written it is. Of course, it also helps when you have Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick as your leads. Both are perfectly cast here and they play off of each other very well. Granted, the film keeps their stories separate for the most but they, obviously, intersect. At first, McAllister pressures Paul to join the race as a hollow way of given the 'voters' some options as Tracy was running unopposed. But, as the film and election campaign progresses, and his life falling apart, McAllister starts to play a more active role in actively trying to make sure that Tracy does not win the election because of how annoying she is. And Reese Witherspoon plays the role to perfection, but she's not entirely unlikable as I believe her motivations are believable. First of all, her mother has put this enormous pressure on her to succeed in life, which can't be easy at that age, and her desire to be president is mostly due to the fact that she thinks it would bring her friends. It, obviously, didn't go that way as Tracy's personality can certainly come on a little strong sometimes. But, as mentioned, Reese plays this to perfection. Matthew is excellent as well as this mild-mannered, likable, and good teacher who, for one reason or another, finds himself obsessed with this election even as his life goes down the tubes due to an affair. There's narration from all characters involved and McAllister's was easily the best because what he said typically never matched up with what was actually going on in the film. He'll be telling a story about his affair with Linda got started and the complications that brought and he'll end it with 'You could say my life was going really well'. His cheery optimism even in the face of being forced to live in a way too expensive, yet small, apartment, a shitty job as a museum guide, being forced to move away from his city because of the scandal at the school, and losing his wife is something to behold. It's certainly funny. And, of course, the satire on the nature of politics and elections is not lost on me. It's certainly a very smart film and one with more on its mind than meets the eye. But I digress, this is a very good movie and it's certainly underrated among 90s comedies. I'd definitely recommend it if you have Netflix. And even if you don't. It's worth watching.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 08, 2014
    An amusing satirical film that may take us more than one viewing 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 M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2013
    A very quirky and intelligent dark comedy with a breakout role from Reese Witherspoon, Election is as funny as it is original, and both Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick play their characters with the utmost comic precision. One of Alexander Payne's best films, although Sideways still stands out as the best of his work.
    Joey S Super Reviewer

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