Prime Screening Room: Election

January 31, 2013
By

Here in the Prime Screening Room, I highlight Amazon Prime Instant Videos that are not only free for Prime members to watch, but definitely worth the cost of the rental for everyone else as well.

Today’s pick: the pitch-black comedy Election (R, 4/5 stars average Amazon review rating, currently priced at $2.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy, currently FREE for Amazon Prime members to view), starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon.

Here’s how the movie is described on Amazon:

Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde) is Tracy Flick, a straight “A” go-getter who’s determined to be president of Carver High’s student body. But when popular teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick, The Producers) observes the zealous political locomotive that is Tracy, he decides to derail her obsessive overachieving by recruiting an opposition candidate (Chris Klein, American Pie) – with disastrous results! Here’s a smart, witty and hilarious jab at high school politics helmed by award-winning director Alexander Payne (Sideways).

My Take

I absolutely LOVE a well-done black comedy, but they’re hard to come by. Studios don’t like to make them, probably because they can so easily go awry. This movie is definitely exceptional in that regard.

It’s very refreshing to see Matthew Broderick, whom most of us remember as smart-alecky, uber-winning Ferris Bueller, back in a high school setting but this time around, playing a somewhat shlubby teacher in a troubled marriage.

Reese Witherspoon is perfectly cast as the hyper-Type-A, devious Tracy Flick. Whether it’s academic achievement or extra-curriculars, Tracy is determined to get what she wants at all costs. Despite having had an affair with McAllister’s fellow teacher and friend, she always seems to get off scot-free and has never been called to answer for any of her underhanded tactics.

After seeing his colleague’s career and marriage left in shambles by this perky dervish of blonde ambition, McAllister only wants to see Tracy held responsible when he uncovers evidence that she’s broken school election rules, and in the beginning, it’s all about teaching her a valuable life lesson. But as Tracy’s antics escalate and McAllister finds his marriage crumbling, he allows himself to be pulled down to Tracy’s level.

What began as an attempt to help Tracy grow as a person quickly unravels into an unhealthy obsession with seeing her brought to justice.

Losing all sense of propriety and boundaries, he soon finds himself in a pitched battle of wills with Tracy. Too late, he realizes the odds are stacked steeply against a man who takes on a high school girl who, to all outward appearances, is a squeaky-clean, straight-A student with a bright future ahead of her.

 

I give this movie 5/5 stars.

 

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