Anybody? Bueller? A long time ago Matthew Broderick starred in a great film as a rebellious high school kid. How times have changed. In Election, Broderick plays a teacher entangled in a web of treachery and sex over the election of the president of the student government.

What's the difference between ethics and morals? Nothing really. But Jim McAllister (Broderick), a high school teacher who is passionate about his work, tries to get the class to answer this question when he finds out his friend Dave Novotny (Mark Harelik) slept with Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) a know-it-all over-achieving high schooler. Needless to say, Flick is the first person in the class to raise her hand to answer his questions.

When McAllister finds out Flick is running for school president, he arranges some competition in the form of Paul Metzler (Chris Klein). This is when his troubles begin. As the election progresses, McAllister gets dissatisfied with his wife and lusts after his friend's wife, Linda Novotny (Delaney Driscoll) and Tracy herself. While this complicates the situation, things come to a head when Paul's lesbian sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell) also decides to run. Tammy's campaign, consisting of promises to do nothing except dissolve the student government so they'd never have to sit through another set of lame election speeches, is hugely popular. She appears to be a shoo-in to win, much to Tracy's chagrin who wants to win at all costs.

Director Alexander Payne does an amazing job of setting up the humour in the film, from the use of freeze frames during the narrative dialogue to multiple jabs taken at various sorts of people and things (from real world politics to the maturity of adults). The acting is excellent and Broderick has finally graduated from his boyish roles and added some gray to his hair. The characters are extremely interesting and even though they're all flawed in some manner (except perhaps for Paul and his sister), Payne manages to present them in an empathic manner.

Wrapped around the entire movie is the notion that sex and physical attraction are powerful motivators for the actions of people, and actions based on such motivations are generally not well-thought out. More directly, the cost of getting what you want by any means is illustrated not just by the election process but also by the consequences McAllister faces. In the end, Election is an interesting study of human emotions such as jealously, frustration, anger, and sexual desire, and a funny one to boot.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org