Alexander Payne loves shitting on his characters to a point where they are beyond redemption. Reese Witherspoon plays a lead so irritating and smug that you could almost call it a brave performance. Matthew Broderick plays her teacher, who through sheer dislike of her tries to rig a school election to prevent her from winning.
Which awful, unlikeable, morally bankrupt figure are we supposed to back? Payne sort of forces your hand into rooting for the teacher, and a lot of the comedy comes from his attempts to then make the audience regret that decision.
The extramarital affair plot could go, but otherwise this is a well put together film that holds up pretty well 20 years after its release.
There’s a lot more to Election than Reese Witherspoon but it’s her performance that makes it stand out amongst its peers, and it’s worth your time on that basis alone.