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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Election (1999)



Reviews and Comments

Black comedy done well is one of my favorite genres. It's a wide genre, too, encompassing such subtlely brilliant works as The Accidental Tourist, Prizzi's Honor, and Out of Sight. Election is like none of them; it's closer to Rushmore in spirit and humor, plus shares a surface thematic resemblance, though the comparison does not go far. If nothing else, Election is an original work.

Its theme is its title. Election is about a high school class president election, and what it has to say can be applied to any political election. I enjoyed what this movie had to say about its core ideas, and I liked the way the characters were used to express them. What I didn't like was what the movie tried to do outside the narrow scope of its analysis and commentary of elections. I enjoyed the characters only insofar as they represented the usual stereotypes that play roles in political elections; I didn't care for them in any other way, particularly in the case of Matthew Broderick's character. I didn't care what happened to them, couldn't relate to them, and was frequently annoyed with them. Reese Witherspoon's was a notable exception, in part because she had the closest ties to the what I did like about the movie, and in part because Witherspoon does such a fantastic job playing the part. Most of the laughs I found in Election came from moments where the humor relied on her hitting exactly the right notes with exactly the right balance. She should probably get an Academy Award nomination for her work in this film.

But, alas, I have to chalk Election up as a miss. I certainly appreciated what it was trying to do, enjoyed some of the subtle black humor, but regret that there was not more of that and less excess.