Reese Witherspoon is all about iconic roles and movies forging a career on charisma, charm, and immense talent. And now, one her critically highest-rated films is available on Netflix.
Election is the 1999 black comedy that stars Reese Witherspoon as high school student Tracy Flick. The movie also stars Matthew Broderick as Jim McAllister, a beloved civics teacher who does not care for Tracy in the least. See, Tracy was caught having a sexual relationship with Jim’s best friend and fellow teacher, Dave Novotny. Even though Dave didn’t go to jail for his transgression, he did lose his job. Tracy, on the other hand, didn’t even get a slap on the wrist.
Tracy, ever the overachiever, which Reese Witherspoon nails perfectly, announces that she will be running for student body president, informing Jim that the two will be seeing more of each other as he oversees the student government. This appalls Jim, so he goes to popular football player Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to encourage him to enter the race. Paul, sidelined with a broken leg, declines at first. He then realizes running will give him another purpose while he recovers from his injury.
His decision to run doesn’t sit well with Tracy, who can’t stand Paul for his privileged upbringing and the ease with which he relates to fellow students.
Tammy is Paul’s sister who is in a relationship with Lisa Flanagan until she is dumped by Lisa. Lisa then switches sides and becomes Paul’s girlfriend and his campaign manager. There is only one thing Tammy can do, run for class president. It’s here that things start getting a bit darker and where Reese Witherspoon starts to really shine.
As the threesome continues their run for office, they meet at an assembly to make their campaign speeches. While Tracy gets a polite reception and Paul only a bit better, Tammy rev’s up the crowd with a blistering take on the election process and vows to get rid of the student government. The standing ovation isn’t enough to stop her from getting kicked out of school.
In the meantime, Jim continues to plot against Tracy, eventually confronting her on his suspicion that she destroyed her running mates’ campaign posters. She denies it, though she did it, and Tammy claims it was she who did it. Tammy then gets expelled from school and sent to an all-girls catholic school, which delights her.
The election is now between Tracy and Paul, and it is a tight one. Paul can seal his fate either way with his vote. Jim can seal Tracy’s fate by playing dirty. The janitor can fix everything with what he finds in the garbage.
Election was directed by Alexander Payne, who also co-wrote the script with Jim Taylor. The movie was based on the novel of the same name written by Tom Perrotta. The numbers for the movie are strange as Payne was given anywhere from $8-25 million to complete the movie. It was not a hit at the box office, only bringing in a tad over $17 million.
Reese Witherspoon has had herself a roller coaster of a movie career. Election came at a time when Witherspoon was on an upswing. She had starred in Pleasantville and Cruel Intentions before finding Election. After that, she moved on to Best Laid Plans, American Psycho, and Adam Sandler’s Little Nicky before she found her most iconic role.
Elle Woods is the character Reese Witherspoon most identifies with. She nailed the character in the 2001 hit Legally Blonde, then went back to it again in the 2003 feature Legally Blonde 2. The success she found with Elle Woods wouldn’t last.
With a career beset with peaks and valleys, Reese Witherspoon soon found herself in the valley. She says her divorce from Ryan Phillippe in 2007 was what set her off on her downward path. She told CBS News of her divorce that it took her a few years just trying to get herself to feel better. “You know, you can’t really be very creative when you feel like your brain is scrambled eggs.” As for her dip in popular films, she says simply that she “wasn’t making things I was passionate about. I was just kind of working, you know. And it was really clear that audiences weren’t responding to anything I was putting out there.”
After her downturn, Reese Witherspoon has recovered nicely. She is happily remarried to Jim Toth, who is the co-head of motion picture talent at Creative Artists Agency, and she has added more to her resume not only in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well.
Reese Witherspoon first began producing films with her 2003 movie Legally Blonde 2. Since then, she has filled that role on a number of feature films while also crossing over to the television side on series such as Master the Mess, Big Little Lies, Truth Be Told, Little Fires Everywhere, and the Apple+ hit The Morning Show.
Up next for Reese Witherspoon is Disney’s Tink, a live-action movie in which she will perform both duties, act and produce and follows the adventures of Peter Pan’s pixie partner, Tinker Bell. There are also plans for Witherspoon to return as both producer and actress to the role that made her famous as Elle Woods returns in Legally Blonde 3.
Until then, head on over to Netflix and check out Reese Witherspoon’s critically acclaimed movie Election.