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Movie Review

Tracy Flick is an overachiever who has waited her whole life to run for student body president. She's cute, bubbly and a little bit obnoxious. Add to this mix Jim McAllister—a teacher affectionately referred to as "Mr. M" by his students. Flick's very presence annoys Mr. M. In an attempt to keep Flick from assuming victory (which for Mr. M would mean countless hours supervising this overzealous girl in student government) he encourages the popular varsity football star (Paul Metzler) to join the competition. When this unlikely candidate interrupts Flick's heretofore unopposed campaign, things begin to heat up.

Positive Elements: Redeemable elements can be found in Election, but all of them are accompanied by caveats. Jim McAllister, who's initially painted as a devoted history teacher at a Nebraska high school, confronts his colleague who has become sexually involved with Flick explaining, "what you are doing is really, really wrong, and you need to stop now." Sadly, McAllister forgets his own advice later in the film and becomes involved in his own adulterous relationship. Paul is kind, caring and humble—in many ways your all-American guy. However, his morals drop through the floor when it comes to sexuality.

Spiritual Content: As the school election comes to a head, each contender offers up a quick prayer on their way to bed. Tracy's self-absorbed request expects "divine intervention" in spite of her lack of integrity during the campaign. Tammy clearly acknowledges the fact that she doesn't believe in the very God she is praying to. Nevertheless, she goes on to share her wishes and concerns—between expletives—in much the same fashion as a Christmas list. Paul's prayer seems the most redemptive and sincere of the three, as he surrenders the outcome of the election to God. While he does ask for forgiveness, he fails to acknowledge any understanding of what sin is—therefore leaving the audience to overlook his sexual escapades in light of his good nature. In an attempt to be humorous, this seemingly naive character also offers up thanksgiving to God for "blessing him with a large penis."

Sexual Content: A lot. A teacher pursues one of his students, Tracy Flick. He flirts with her in a restaurant. They kiss in the school yearbook's darkroom. And eventually, they find their way to his home—where he leads her into his bedroom. It is more than implied that the two consummate their tawdry relationship. McAllister and his wife engage in sexual intercourse twice—during which Jim fantasizes about being with another woman. Eventually his dream comes true. Jim and Linda (who's married) engage in passionate kissing—rolling around on the floor in front on her toddler. Tammy and a teen girlfriend kiss while listening to love songs in Tammy's bedroom. Later, her friend's "preferences" change and she performs oral sex on Tammy's brother, Paul. Later she is seen making out with him in a hot tub. McAllister tries to remedy his insomnia one evening by viewing one of his many pornographic films. The audience receives a raunchy dose of this film's content, during which a cheerleader and football player are having sex. One scene finds McAllister washing his genitals in preparation for an adulterous fling.

Crude or Profane Language: The f-word is used more than a dozen times. Several uses of the s-word and the derogatory term, b---ch occur as well. Many crude comments and insults surface throughout the film—usually sexually slanted.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Tammy is seen smoking in one scene. In an attempt to appease her daughter's hysteria, Tracy's mother has her take a pill (valium?) before tucking her in to bed. In preparation for his "fling" McCallister sticks a bottle of Champaign in a sink full of ice at a hotel. The end of the film finds Paul enjoying the darker side of college life—keg and all.

Other Negative Elements: Election's portrayal of teachers is poor at best. Based solely on the film, one would assume that high school teachers are sexually frustrated, intellectually stunted adults who lack integrity, drive and purpose in their lives. Likewise, being a "moral" or "good" student requires little beyond good looks and a kind disposition. Paul, for instance, is a nice enough guy. He tries to think about other people, which certainly is admirable in today's self-centered culture. Nevertheless, his sexual activity falls far short of Scriptural standards.

Summary: Election could have been a good, clean comedy. High school life certainly has its humorous quirks. If only MTV Productions could have left well enough alone. Instead, producers took a nosedive into an array of crude sexual situations and confused morality. Ironically, Entertainment Weekly gave this skewed interpretation of high school life an "A" calling it a "sophisticated morality tale." Hardly! Don't be afraid to cast your vote of opposition to Election.

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Matthew Broderick as Jim McAllister; Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick; Chris Klein as Paul Metzler; Jessica Campbell as his sister Tammy; Phil Reeves as Principal Hendricks


Alexander Payne ( )


Paramount Pictures



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Cari Stone

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