[[caption-width-right:300:Pick Flick!]]

''Election'' is a 1999 satirical {{teen|Drama}} {{dramedy}} based on the [[TheFilmOfTheBook 1998 novel of the same name]] by Tom Perrotta, starring Creator/MatthewBroderick, Creator/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 UsefulNotes/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 UsefulNotes/AcademyAward winner's best roles. The film also resurrected Creator/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.

* 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. This is 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's a huge fraud and a waste of time for everyone at school.
* AllElectionsAreSeriousBusiness: A student council election at a high school dragging up sordid love affairs and past dirt, all for the sake of vengeance.
* TheAllegedCar: Although it is in reasonable condition, 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 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]]. This is taken from the book's ending.
* AmbitionIsEvil: The film definitely takes this stance vis-à-vis Tracy Flick.
* 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.]] Though [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation depending on how you interpret the characters]] it may actually range from Happy to Downer.
** Tracy wins the election and becomes student council president, only to find that the job is practically meaningless and it doesn't make her any more popular with the students. When she goes on to college she's still a solitary student, ignored by her peers, and she realizes that she'll always be alone even though there is the implication that her overachieving ways may eventually take Tracy to high places.
* BrainlessBeauty: Paul.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Paul's last line, spoken directly into the camera: [[spoiler: "Or maybe I'd be dead."]]
* 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. [[spoiler: [[JustifiedTrope Justified]], as it eventually became the part of her plan.]]
** Paul takes his defeat in stride, caring even less than Tammy and still being the most popular kid in school.
* CuteAndPsycho: Tracy.
* 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.]]
* DorkHorseCandidate: Tammy.
* EducationMama: Tracy's mother.
* FalseConfession: [[spoiler:Tammy lies and says that she tore down Paul's posters, evidently to get expelled from the school and therefore distanced from the people she grew to hate.]]
* FilleFatale: Tracy is probably a FemmeFatale in the making.
* 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: Averted: when Jim moves to New York City he has to pay $1550 a month (plus utilities) 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:
** Lisa, as it's strongly implied she dates Paul to hurt Tammy and later a football player to hurt Paul.
** Tracy is able to to get into Georgetown, and later becomes a senator's aide that she is implied to be having an affair with. However, she has to endure the scorn of everyone around her for her holier-than-thou attitude. Not to mention [=McAllister=] really having it in for her.
** Tracy in a more specific example. After tearing down Paul's posters she's heading for an expelling, derailing all her ambitions at once. That particular bullet misses her completely.
* 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 naivete 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.
* ManipulativeBastard: [=McAllister=] to Paul primarily, but he's doing it to work Tracy over as well.
* 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 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: [=McAllister=] finds someone to run against Tracy for the sheer sake of making it more difficult for her to win.
* PopularIsDumb: Paul.
* PyrrhicVictory: [[spoiler: Winning Class President for Tracy, since it's a meaningless position, and she is not very well liked for it anyways]].
* 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 it's 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.
* SmugSmiler: A RunningGag is that on several occasions, whenever [=McAllister=] sees Tracy the camera will freeze on a shot of her with a ''very'' smug look on her face.
* StepfordSmiler: Tracy, especially in Mr. [=McAllister=]'s view, the way she can go from sweet to [[CuteAndPsycho borderline psychotic]]. In several scenes, she flicks on her smile like a light.
* 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.
* {{Unishment}}: 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]].
* UnreliableNarrator: Tracy. Her flashbacks (especially to [[TeacherStudentRomance her affair]]) all downplay her culpability in the events of the film. Jim, Tammy and Paul also count.
* VillainProtagonist: Mr. [=McAllister=]. Lying, election fraud, adultery, Machiavellian use of [[GoodIsDumb Paul]]... all whilst enacting his plan to bring down the target of his spite. Not really a boy scout.
* 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]].