Because Election Day is happening tomorrow, I thought it would be a great time to revisit my favorite political movie. No, not Primary Colors or Wag the Dog, or even The American President (which I do love). This week I’m watching Election (DVD/Download), and wishing Tracy Flick was actually on the ballot. Anywhere. With her type-A personality, adorable Midwestern accent, and barrel full of chewing gum, she definitely gets my vote. Who cares that she’s got skeletons in her closet- don’t all politicians?
Election is a delicious dark comedy adapted from the novel by Tom Perrotta and directed by Alexander Payne. It tells the story of Jim McAllister (played by Matthew Broderick), a high school civics teacher who oversees the school elections. Reese Witherspoon plays Tracy Flick (the overachieving student gunning for the class president vote) with a slightly manic, conniving edge. All of the actors are brilliant, and I have to say this movie does a pretty realistic job of depicting the life of a teacher. Double dates with other teachers, having to give the same lesson over and over again (Executive, Legislative, Judicial), driving a crappy car- the details are spot on. They left out the part where teachers never go to the bathroom- EVER (unless you’re Matthew Broderick and decide to pee on a tree), but overall it’s pretty accurate. Payne does such a great job of skewering Midwestern suburban life, and the politics of high school in general. It’s not surprising that Entertainment Weekly listed this as one of the top 50 high school movies ever made, and I totally agree with them. We all had a Tracy Flick in our school, and a jock like Paul Metzler, and a burnout/sexually ambiguous girl like Tammy Metzler, and teachers like Dave Novotny (they may not have seduced their students, but there must be plenty of “cool teachers” who got into teaching because they just never really wanted to leave high school).
Speaking of Mr. Novotny, his seduction tactics have inspired my cocktail pairing this week. I mean, who wouldn’t swoon over a middle-aged guy who listens to “Three Times a Lady” and plies his young dates with root beer? (Because, you know, alcohol would be inappropriate in this totally normal situation….) While watching Election, I recommend drinking an Adult Root Beer Float.
Adult Root Beer Float
8 oz Root Beer
1 oz vanilla vodka
Vanilla ice cream
Pour rootbeer into a chilled glass, and add in the vodka. Top with Vanilla ice cream.
It’s no surprise to me that burnout character Tammi Metzler gets the most applause when she lets loose a tirade against the school political system during a debate, and I cheer right along with her classmates. It’s easy to wonder amidst all the campaign ads we’re seeing now and false promises- does it actually matter who gets elected? Will it really change anything? Make one single person smarter or happier or nicer? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll watch this movie and wish that on tomorrow’s ballot I could just “Pick Flick”. Cheers!