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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Election

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon
Director: Alexander Payne
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Colleen Camp, Molly Hagan, Jessica Campbell, Chris Klein

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

The appeal of this intelligent, witty social and political satire should extend far beyond the teenage years. It's classified as a "high school flick" because virtually all the characters are students or teachers, but its sly intrigue should appeal to a sophisticated young adult audience. Set in Nebraska at George Washington Carver High, the story revolves around an aggressive and loathsome young woman, Reese Witherspoon, who is running, unopposed, for president of the student government. She's a cocky, irritating over-achiever with a sizable chip on her shoulder, cast in the mold of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Matthew Broderick, as a popular faculty advisor, is so alarmed by her brazen determination that he convinces a gentle but dumb super-jock (Chris Klein) to run against her. Their rivalry becomes even more complicated when the jock's younger sister (Jessica Campbell), a sophomore, declares her candidacy, based on a promise to do nothing as student president but abolish the idiocy of student government. It's a platform that seems to have great appeal. Written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, and directed by Alexander Payne ("Citizen Ruth"), the theme is profound cynicism about today's democratic process in which someone must be ruthlessly ambitious, not to mention hypocritical, in order to win votes and attain public office. Add to that a disdain for the state of love, sex, and marriage in the '90s and you have a subversive, wickedly clever premise which is fully realized by the artful casting. Both Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick are completely believable in their parts, as are Chris Klein and Jessica Campbell. To me, this comedy rings with malevolent teenage truth. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Election" scores an audacious, acerbic 8. It's a winner.

Copyright 1999 Susan Granger

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