on April 23, 1999 by Christine James
Unofficial synopses of this black comedy claim that it's "Ferris Bueller on the other side of the desk." Now that would have been a funny movie. But just because Matthew Broderick played both "Ferris'" eponymous impish AWOL academian and "Election's" morally questionable high school teacher Jim McAllister doesn't mean the characters are comparable; in fact, to imply a connection is an affront to one of moviedom's most beloved scalawags. It's utterly depressing to even consider that Ferris would grow up to be a rut-ridden instructor whose dislike for an offputtingly prissy student, the perennially pinch-faced Tracy Flick ("Cruel Intentions'" Reese Witherspoon), leads him to try to destroy her. His attempts to foil her bid to become school president aren't remotely Ferris-caliber; there is no ingenuity, no potential positive outcome, no hero to root for--no fun.
   The repellant tone of "Election" is set early on when a teacher who's had an affair with Tracy describes a personal detail about his paramour to McAllister in appallingly salacious terms. Subsequently, the film repeatedly tries to shock but simply alienates, while our protagonists spiral farcically downward. This is one "Election" that could have used fixing. Starring Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein and Jessica Campbell. Directed by Alexander Payne. Written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. Produced by Jacobus Rose and James Burke. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated R for strong sexuality, sex-related dialogue and language, and a scene of drug use. Running time: 103 min
Tags: Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, Jacobus Rose, James Burke, Paramount, Comedy, sex-related, drugs, depressing, black comedy

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