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  • Accidental Aesop: Don't tee off the janitor with your sloppiness if you plan on committing election fraud.
  • Adaptation Displacement: There was a book?
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Tracy Flick a ruthless evil politician and Femme Fatale in the making? Is she just an ambitious teenager manipulated by her mother, abused by a teacher, and sabotaged by another teacher (who might lust after her too, if some of the sex scenes are any indication)? Or is she a Jerkass Woobie who has no one to guide her in anything but becoming a Manipulative Bastard Chessmaster and may never realise she doesn't have to be Lonely at the Top?
      • The original ending (one taken from the book) took the stance that she was indeed the latter.
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    • Is Jim McAllister simply a member of the Noble Profession whose entire life was destroyed by Tracy? Or someone who couldn't admit to himself that his marriage was falling apart, and took all his life's frustrations out by sabotaging the election of a student he had resentment (and Foe Yay, or No Yay) against? It was a student election, losing it would hardly stop her from moving up in the world as he told himself it would.
      • Mr McAllister also seems to exaggerate Tracy's Fille Fatale qualities to justify his friend's seriously unethical and immoral behavior, despite the fact there's no indication Tracy was anything like that before her affair with Dave.
    • Mr McAllister sees Dave as a harmless Manchild despite the fact he had sex with an underage student of his. In addition to Dave being married, having sex with a student is a huge professional and ethical breach even when the student is of age, due to the power differential. In Tracy's flashback to how her affair with him started he definitely seemed to be singling her out and knowing which buttons to push. His insistence that they were in love could be more about justifying it to himself then anything else or even getting out of jail time by pretending to be the harmless Manchild Mr McAllister thinks he is, who did something stupid rather than a predator who knew what he was doing was illegal and wrong but did it anyway. If he is so dimwitted that he doesn't know why he shouldn't have a relationship with one of his own students, he definitely shouldn't be a teacher.
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    • At the end of the film, McAllister takes a dislike to a prepubescent girl visiting the museum because she's eager to answer questions. While some might say the child was genuinely annoying, it's also not hard to interpret this as McAllister just seriously hating outspoken women and girls no matter what their age.
    • Did Lisa care for Tammy at all and was just too deep in the closet to admit it, or was she just using Tammy to get to Paul?
  • Applicability: The story was originally written as a Roman à Clef satire of the 1992 US Presidential election, with Tammy's run for Student Council President in particular based on H. Ross Perot's firebrand independent campaign. However, many critics and political journalists rediscovered it during the 2016 election, arguing that it worked just as effectively as a sendup of the ridiculousness of that election. Hillary Rodham Clinton in particular saw many, many comparisons to Tracy Flick, to the point where both Reese Witherspoon and Clinton herself made note of it when the two of them met.
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  • Award Snub: A number of people believe that Reese Witherspoon's performance should have been nominated for an Oscar.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Liberal usage of the theme to Navajo Joe by Ennio Morricone.
    • Taxiride's "Get Set" also certainly counts.
  • Crazy Awesome: Tammy.
  • Designated Hero: Mr. McAllister with Tracy as the Designated Villain. Thankfully, he suffer from the consequences of his actions in the end.
  • Foe Yay / No Yay: Mr. McAllister ends up having sexual fantasies about Tracy, despite the fact he hates her with a passion.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Paul's pre-election day prayer? That his sister, Tammy, will be okay. He doesn't even care about the election, and deep down he doesn't really believe Tammy tore down his posters. "Please help her be a happier person, because she's so smart and sensitive, and I love her so much."
  • Memetic Mutation: Many have jokingly compared Tracy to Hillary Clinton.
  • Prima Donna Director: [1] to the point of verbally abusing a female production coordinator? Some say.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Nicholas D'Agosto played Larry Fouch, the kid who initially tallies the Student Council votes and who spits at McAllister's car in the epilogue. He'd go on to have a prominent role in Showtime's series Masters of Sex.
  • Values Dissonance: Tracy's relationship with Dave Novotny is bound to be viewed in a different light after the #MeToo era. McAllister blaming a high school student for his adult friend's inability to control his behavior comes across as distasteful at best, and victim blaming at worst. Watching it today, it definitely furthers the more unsympathetic interpretation of McAllister detailed above.
  • Vindicated by History: The film was overshadowed by American Pie at the box office, but TV airings and DVD sales (not to mention glowing critic reviews) helped it to build its reputation.

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