Teen comedies are a dime a dozen. Movies "with attitude" are a dime a dozen, as is anything dubbed "subversive". But movies in which the laughs are really more like a strangled cry of recognition are more rare. Enter "Election".Do we really need another movie that lays bare the festering swamp that is adolescence and high school in America? Well, yeah, in fact we do, and the movie is "Election." The mechanics: Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick, chirpy class superachiever who sets her relentless sights on the student body presidency of a high school where Matthew Broderick teaches. He becomes obsessed with her and her candidacy, not only because she helped bring down his best friend but because his own life is so flat.
I kept marvelling at how many facial muscles Reese Witherspoon finds to twitch. I realized all over again how nobody does incredulous like Matthew Broderick.
It's pretty brave to try and mine territory this familiar, but this movie brings such a gift for the unexpected, and such a sharp eye for observation that you give in out of sheer respect. I laughed just because the principal looks EXACTLY like a high school principal. I laughed when Tracy and her (adult) lover made goo-goo eyes sharing a can of Diet Mug Root Beer. I laughed because this movie is so sure-footed walking the always-hazardous path between twisted and true. Broderick's character is obsessed with Witherspoon's, but it doesn't come any closer to being acted out than a few tense encounters over other matters; but sure as hell, he's on a slippery slope to oblivion within minutes. This is one of those movies where the only decent response is to cringe, because we see someone we sort of like doing things that are going to destroy him, and especially because it's so easy to imagine ourselves doing the same godforesaken things.
Honest to God, it's the Anti-Summer Movie.After Election, there's only one thing for it. Get Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci for a remake of The Women. Where do I go to stand in line for THAT one?