[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Tracy_Flick_for_President_1134.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Pick Flick!]]

''Election'' is a 1999 {{teen|Drama}} {{dramedy}} [[TheFilmOfTheBook based on the 1998 novel of the same name]] by Tom Perrotta, starring Creator/MatthewBroderick, ReeseWitherspoon and Chris Klein and directed by Creator/AlexanderPayne.

Overachieving high school student Tracy Flick is running unopposed for StudentCouncilPresident. This draws the ire of history and civics teacher Jim [=McAllister=], who [[PickOnSomeoneYourOwnSize hates Tracy's attitude]] and feels that the students should have a choice -- any choice -- in the election. There's also the fact that [=McAllister=] is holding a massive grudge against Tracy for engaging in [[TeacherStudentRomance a sexual relationship]] with his best friend/fellow teacher Dave Novotny, which wound up getting him fired and destroying his marriage -- while Tracy (thanks to her mother) got the school to cover up the entire thing in order to protect her reputation.

To foil her dreams of using the election as a springboard for her future, [=McAllister=] recruits injured star football player Paul Metzler to run against Tracy. This inspires Paul's lesbian sister Tammy to run as well, in order to get revenge upon Paul for dating Tammy's ex-girlfriend (who dumped Tammy after deciding that [[IncompatibleOrientation she wasn't a lesbian after all]]). Meanwhile, [=McAllister=], feeling a lack of passion in his love life (and fearing his own FoeYay with Tracy) starts dating the aforementioned friend's ex-wife. All of this culminates into the mother of all bad days as all of these trains crash into each other.

The film was a critical darling, but had a mediocre take at the box office, due to the studio [[NeverTrustATrailer screwing up its marketing]] and portraying it as a straight-up teen comedy as opposed to a drama with BlackComedy overtones -- presumably an effort to cash in on the success of ''Film/AmericanPie'' (the fact that Chris Klein is in both films adds a bit of credence to that theory), which came out earlier that year. Based on its critical success, though, it managed an AcademyAward nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.[[note]]Payne and writing partner Jim Taylor would later win in 2004 for ''Film/{{Sideways}}'', and again in 2011 for ''Film/TheDescendants''.[[/note]] Likewise, Reese Witherspoon received glowing reviews for her performance, and it is often cited as one of the future AcademyAward winner's best roles. The film also resurrected MatthewBroderick's career after several years of obscurity.

It has since been VindicatedByHistory, and was named by ''Entertainment Weekly'' as the ninth greatest HighSchool movie ever made.

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!!Tropes:
* AbsurdlyPowerfulStudentCouncil: Deconstructed. The student council is ultimately revealed at the end of the film as being highly dysfunctional, [[spoiler:to the point that Tracy can't get ''anything'' accomplished during her tenure as President]]. Furthermore, the film pretty much establishes that the whole thing is one glorified popularity contest: hence why Mr. [=McAllister=] selects Paul to run against Tracy since, as one of the most popular kids at school, more kids in theory will vote for him over Tracy. Furthermore, Tammy's entire campaign platform is based upon the idea of dissolving the student council as she openly acknowledges that it is a huge fraud and a waste of time for everyone at school.
* ActorAllusion: Five minutes into the movie we see MatthewBroderick's Mr. [=McAllister=] throwing questions to the class and asking "[[Film/FerrisBuellersDayOff anybody?]]" (He also narrates quite a lot, and is shown taking showers in a very similar manner; all that's needed is a chorus of "Danke Schön.")
** Hell, MatthewBroderick starring in any high school movie after having established his career playing Ferris Bueller.
* AllElectionsAreSeriousBusiness
* TheAllegedCar: Although it is reasonable condition and runs well enough, Mr. [=McAllister=] drives a pretty crappy early 90s Ford Festiva compact car (a rebadged Korean-built Kia Pride), a minute car by American standards. Presumably this was chosen deliberately, in the DVD commentary Alexander Payne says "Ford Festiva, the car of an impotent man."
* AlmightyJanitor: Mr. [=McAllister=] makes the ''very'' big mistake of unknowingly pissing off the school janitor by dropping a [[ChekhovsGun box of chow mein]] on the floor in an absent-minded attempt at cleaning up the staff room. It bites him in the ass when [[spoiler: the janitor finds the thrown-out ballots in the trash bin and reveals to the principal that he had rigged the election]].
* AlternateEnding: The original ending has [[spoiler: Jim working at a car dealership in town having generally recovered from his pariahdom. Tracy shows up to pick up a new car the day before she goes off to college, confronts [=McAllister=] and asks him why he did it. After Mr. [=McAllister=] apologizes Tracy confesses to being scared about going off to college but [=McAllister=] reassures her that she'll be okay and signs her yearbook]].
* BilingualBonus: Right before Paul is called to the principal's office to learn that he [[spoiler: actually lost the election, his Spanish class is conjugating the verb for "to lose"]].
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: [=McAllister=] rebuilds his life and finds a new love, but must deal with the fact that Tracy has not only gone on to great things as a Senator's aide, but is still up to her old tricks of seducing older men.]]
* BrainlessBeauty: Paul.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Paul last line, spoken directly into the camera: [[spoiler: "Or maybe I'd be dead."]]
* BriarPatching: Tammy's parents try to discipline her by sending her to Catholic school (implied to be all-girl), although that's [[CatholicSchoolGirlsRule exactly where she wants to go]].
* BrickJoke: In the final scene, [[spoiler: [=McCallister=] encounters another eager young student willing to answer a question. As with Tracy he's loath to call upon her]].
* CoolLoser: Tammy.
* CuteAndPsycho: Tracy.
* DawsonCasting: Resse Witherspoon and Chris Klein were 23 and 20 respectively when they starred in this film. Averted with most of the extras and minor student roles as it was filmed on location at a real high school
* DecidedByOneVote: [[spoiler: Ironically, the deciding vote comes from Paul, he votes for Tracy because he doesn't know if voting for himself would be the right thing.]]
* DisabledCharacterDisabledActor: A wheelchair-bound teenager plays the candidate who runs unopposed for student council Vice President, either because no one else cares about that position or no one has the heart to run against a disabled kid. On IMDB this is his only film credit, presumably he was a real high school student like all the extras in this film were.
* DorkHorseCandidate: Tammy.
* EducationMama: Tracy's mother.
* FalseConfession: [[spoiler:Tammy lies and says that she tore down Paul's posters, more to spite her brother than to take credit for Tracy's actions.]]
* FilleFatale: Tracy.
* FlyoverCountry: Although Alexander Payne seems to be proud of his native city Omaha, Nebraska, making it the setting for 3 of his films including this one, he certainly doesn't try to make it look glamourous.
* TheFilmOfTheBook
* FriendsRentControl: Inverted, when Jim moves to New York City he has to pay $1550 a month (plus utilites) for a ''tiny'' little cramped basement apartment with the bed, bath and kitchen units stuffed into one little room.
* GoGetterGirl: Hoo boy, is Tracy ever.
* GoodIsDumb: Paul, the most sympathetic and decent character in the film, is an absolute moron.
* GrassIsGreener: How Mr. [=McAllister=], possibly the point of delusion, thinks of his "exciting" new life in New York compared to his old life in Omaha, although he is now living in a ridiculous small apartment instead of a house and has a more humble job as a museum tour guide, probably earning less with a much higher cost of living.
* GreyAndGreyMorality: Tracy is a [[CuteAndPsycho sweet but borderline psychotic]] overachiever who [[spoiler:tears down Paul's posters in a fit of rage]], Paul is a well-intentioned but [[PopularIsDumb fairly clueless]] guy who's only running because he was told to by his teacher, Tammy is only in the race to get {{revenge}} against Paul and Lisa, and Mr. [=McAllister=] cheats on his wife and [[spoiler:rigs the ballots to deny Tracy the victory]].
* HumiliationConga: Mr [=McAllister=]'s story arc is dedicated to heaping more and more humiliation and failure on him at an ever-increasing speed, especially in the film's final act. He does improve his lot in life a bit by the conclusion, but the way he is presented still makes him look like something of a ButtMonkey.
* IncompatibleOrientation: Why Lisa stops being friends with Tammy. She was straight (and only "[[BiTheWay experimenting]]") while Tammy was lesbian and thought the two of them were [[SchoolgirlLesbians in love]].
* KarmaHoudini: Tracy. Also Lisa - it's strongly implied she dates Paul to hurt Tammy and later a football player to hurt Paul.
* LonelyAtTheTop: Tracy. Dave even tells her as much when they're dating.
* LovableJock: Paul is a genuinely kind-hearted person who doesn't say or do a single unkind thing throughout the film. He's almost too nice to be for real. There is the pain he causes his sister by dating and humping her former soulmate Lisa, but due to his sheer naivety he is ''completely'' unaware of this or that Lisa is doing it to get back at Tammy.
* MaleGaze: Used intentionally when Jim is checking out Linda.
* MamaBear: Tracy's mother.
* NotSoAboveItAll: Tracy, in her portion of the film's narration, rants and raves against the rich kids of the school and how working hard and playing by the rules gives her moral superiority, all before [[SanitySlippage going batshit crazy]] and engaging in [[spoiler:blatant vandalism by destroying Paul's posters]], an act she only gets away with it because someone else [[spoiler:(Tammy) would rather take credit for the crime]]. Not to mention her vow to sue [=McAllister=] or anyone else who dares even ''hint'' towards the dark secret of [[TeacherStudentRomance her affair with a teacher]].
* PickOnSomeoneYourOwnSize
* PopularIsDumb: Paul.
* RousingSpeech: Tammy gives one during the debate about how meaningless student government is and how the first thing she'd do upon being elected StudentCouncilPresident is to dismantle the system so that the students wouldn't have to sit through these damn speeches and debates. Her speech is by far the most popular of the three, and its implied that she would've won the election in a {{landslide|Election}} [[spoiler:had she not been disqualified after she [[FalseConfession (falsely) confessed]] to tearing down Paul's campaign posters]].
* SchoolgirlLesbians: Tammy and Lisa, until IncompatibleOrientation rears its ugly head. At the end, it's Tammy and Jennifer.
* SpoiledSweet: Rich kid Paul gets a brand new pickup truck for his 16th birthday, goes on skiing breaks and can afford to often throw parties for his friends. But he is an extremely nice guy and is grateful for what he has. But the less well-off Tracy still hates him and has a big rant about privileged people like him waltzing in and taking what people like her have to spend their entire lives working for VERY, VERY HARD.
* StepfordSmiler: Tracy, especially in Mr. [=McAllister=]'s view. In several scenes she flicks on her smile like a light. [[CuteAndPsycho Type C.]]
* StockFootage: Used in an obvious way when Mr. [=McAllister=] moves to New York, blown-up 16mm footage from the 1960s or 1970s is spliced in as a little montage. Also, feeling elated after starting a fling with Linda, he imagines himself driving a Jaguar E-Type convertible in a classic Italian film, with old-style rear projection behind him. Also used in the scene where Tracy is driving her car at night after [[spoiler:tearing up all the posters]]
* StudentCouncilPresident: What everybody is running for.
* SweaterGirl: It must be said that Reese Witherspoon looks ''really'' good in tight sweaters...
* TeacherStudentRomance: For a brief time, Tracy dated and slept with her geometry teacher, Dave Novotny. They got busted, and Dave lost his job and his wife. Fortunately for Tracy's reputation, the whole thing was kept under wraps.
* ThemeMusicPowerUp: When Tracy gets really pissed, you'll know it.
* UnreliableNarrator: Tracy. Her flashbacks (especially on [[TeacherStudentRomance her affair]]) all downplay her culpability in the events of the film. Jim, Tammy and Paul also count.
* VillainousBreakdown: Although Tracy isn't very good at controlling her emotions anyway, she has one in the scene where [[spoiler:she snaps and tears down all Paul's posters, ending up with bloody hands.]] And also [[spoiler: after she "loses" the election, when she gets home she cries her eyes out]]
* VisualPun: After discussing the "fruits" of democracy with Mr. M, there is a bowl of the discussed fruits on Paul's kitchen counter.
** Also Tracy's viewpoints on Coca-Cola staying #1 because of advertising. While drinking a Pepsi, Mr. [=McCallister=] is inspired to pick Paul to run against her. Doubles as a BrickJoke when at the end of the film, [[spoiler: [=McAllister=] throws a Pepsi cup at the limo Tracy is riding in]].
* VoteEarlyVoteOften: [[spoiler:Inverted, but with the same effect. Mr. [=McAllister=] throws two votes for Tracy into the garbage in order to deny her the victory.]]
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue:
** Tammy gets sent to {{Catholic school|GirlsRule}} [[spoiler:after covering for Tracy by falsely confessing to tearing down the posters]]. She finds that it's not nearly as strict as expected and spends most of her time [[TheStoner getting stoned]] in the bathroom. She also meets her new girlfriend Jennifer.
** Tracy [[spoiler:is instated as student council president after Mr. [=McAllister's=] fraud is exposed]]. Unfortunately for Tracy, [[spoiler:everyone on Student Council hates her (and each other in general), meaning that Tracy's tenure is a miserable experience all around]]. After graduation, she attends Georgetown University and continues to find herself alone, surrounded by people she considers to be slackers and underachievers who get by on their parents' money. She later becomes a Congressional aide, with it strongly implied that she is having a sexual relationship with the older man.
** Paul recovers from his injury, rejoins the team, becomes [[HighSchoolDance homecoming king]] ''[[HighSchoolDance and]]'' [[HighSchoolDance prom king]], and goes on to play football for the University of Nebraska. [[spoiler:He wonders where his life would have gone had he won the election.]]
** Mr. [=McAllister=] [[spoiler:is forced to resign after getting caught rigging the student council election and his wife divorces him for cheating on her. And since the scandal happened on a slow news day, the whole thing is picked up by the national media and [=McAllister=] becomes the town pariah. He ultimately moves to UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity where he lives in a tiny yet expensive apartment and manages to land a job working as a tour guide at the Museum of Natural History. This gives him a chance to teach again and he starts dating a co-worker named Gillian.]]
** Dave [[spoiler:is working a dead-end job stamping price tags at a hardware store]].
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