Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1999. Bona Fide Productions, MTV Films, Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. Cinematography by James Glennon. Produced by Albert Berger, David Gale, Keith Samples, Ron Yerxa. Music by Rolfe Kent. Production Design by Jane Ann Stewart. Costume Design by Wendy Chuck. Film Editing by Kevin Tent.
Brilliant satire that narrows down the hot American political arena to a high school election for SAC president. This isn’t to say that anything is less complicated or dangerous than a real presidential election of course, not when you have cutthroat candidate Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) who is planning on winning no matter what. Matthew Broderick is the exasperated teacher who lives for his job but just can’t stand this overly anxious student who refuses to give up. He decides to take it upon himself morally to stand in her way of success and what results is a battle of wills that never lets up until the bitter end. Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s adaptation of the novel by Tom Perrotta is seamlessly written, and Payne’s direction gives the film an even and perfectly-paced rhythm. Much of the film’s success, though, is owed to the unbeatable performance by Witherspoon, who never overdoes her character’s mannerisms and tantrums so as to render her in any way false. Though its marketing campaigned aimed the film at young audiences, this was the highest critically-rated film of the year in any category.
The Criterion Collection: #904
Academy Award Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Reese Witherspoon)