The tough thing with comedy films, of any sort, is keeping the humor found within, funny. It could be that the clever and thought out funny films only get one go around, while the trashy and dumb ones can, because they’re crap.
The Paramount Pictures and MTV Films film “Election”, is brilliant film, but somehow, after additional viewings, can’t seem to bring out even a chuckle from me, for some reason.
This dark comedy stars Matthew Broderick (“New Year’s Eve”, “Tower Heist”), Reese Witherspoon (“Devil’s Knot”, “This Means War”), Chris Klein (“Wilfred”, “American Reunion”), and Jessica Campbell (“Junk”, “The Safety of Objects”).
The film is directed by Alexander Payne (“Nebraska”, “The Descendants”) and written by Payne (“The Descendants”, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry”) and Jim Taylor (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry”, “Sideways”). It is based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta.
The film originally opened on April 23, 1999. It would go on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and a Golden Globe for Best Actress for Witherspoon among many other award nominations and wins.
For the record, when I saw this film for the first time, I was so engaged and was laughing at all the outrageous things that occurred. Sadly, and this I still can’t figure out, I couldn’t laugh at all when seeing this film an additional two times. I could recognize the dark humor and satirical moments, but it wasn’t the same as the first time. Fortunately, that doesn’t make this a bad film, but simply one that’s not easy to enjoy multiple times.
As a film that focuses on satire and dark humor, it succeeds in so many ways. Especially the acting from the main characters. I must also say, that since I loathe the voiceover currently, I’m surprised that this use of narration didn’t bug me. It wasn’t used simply to give backstory, but to let you into the minds of these four characters, as they’re so completely different and somewhat complex. There’s also a bit of flashback usage that doesn’t slow things down. It’s all used in a creative way to push you from event to event, as each one led to the crazy situations in the film.
The acting for this film is incredible, especially from Witherspoon, who plays the tightly wound, type-A personality, overachiever, Tracy Flick. She is by far the most interesting character I’ve seen her play. This girl will do just about anything, and is fine with not having any real friends. She knows what she wants and goes for it at all costs. That’s part of the allure of this character. She seems sweet and innocent, sort of, but is also known for striving for a lot. However, underneath, she’s more determined and immoral than one would actually believe. This behavior also supplies much of the humor throughout the film.
Broderick is the next most interesting character, as he helps bring out the satirization of suburban high school life and the election process. I’d also include suburban life in general too. He’s loved by many at a job he likes, but at the same time, he’s bored at home. It appears that he wants a little more from his life. His character just seems to take a pretty dark turn, as Witherspoon’s character just continues to rub him the wrong way, matter how hard he tries to make her not affect him. Ultimately he schemes, all in an attempt to punish her and will go about it in some pretty despicable ways. I’d say a lot of humor is also present thanks to this approach by his character and interactions with Klein’s character.
I’m going to take the time to mention now, as I’m seeing it myself, that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to write about this film. I think it’s because of the entire nature and themes of this film. The themes make it so the film can’t simply be explained. The film should, preferably, be watched in its entirety.
To that extent, I’m simply leaving things as so, and providing the first avenue for this to become a reality. The trailer:
Additionally, I just wish I could find the same enjoyment I did when I first watched this film. Now it just seems like I’ll only just hear words and see images, and miss out on a huge piece of what makes it so great, even after all these years.