Film, Comedy
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
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This remarkable film may be set in high school, but its satiric take on moral corruption, political chicanery, adultery and seduction is anything but juvenile. In a smart role reversal, Ferris Bueller (aka Broderick) plays Mr McAllister, a responsible, concerned teacher worn thin by long years at George Washington Carver High, by his sexless marriage, and by the plight of his best friend, sacked for sleeping with the redoubtable but under age Tracy Flick (Witherspoon). Come elections for student council president, Tracy is far and away the front runner, but Mr McAllister, terrified by the prospect of working so closely with this closet Lolita, and charged with overseeing the proceedings, discreetly sponsors a rival candidate, gormless jock Paul (Klein). Things hot up when Paul's lesbian younger sister joins the race. Granted, McAllister's narration has a sour, misogynist aftertaste, even if director/co-writer Payne affects a certain balance by giving Tracy her say. There's more than a whiff of Monica Lewinsky about Ms Flick. With her clipped diction, prim demeanour and blinkered ability to see only her side of every issue, she makes a frighteningly credible proto despot. This may not be politically correct, but as a microcosm of the malaise creeping through Western democracies, the apathy, vote rigging, and character assassination manifest at Carver High serve all too well.

By: TCh

Release details

Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alexander Payne
Screenwriter: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Cast: Colleen Camp
Reese Witherspoon
Delaney Driscoll
Matthew Broderick
Chris Klein
Molly Hagan
Jessica Campbell
Mark Harelik
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Ashleigh A
moderatorStaff Writer

Found this gem on a slow Netflix day and couldn't believe I'd never heard of it before. It's quite 'American Beauty' in tone but with a lot more black comedy and silly editing. Matthew Broderick is at his best as a teacher whose life accidentally spirals out of control, and Reese Witherspoon is an evil genius – especially great when you remember that probably her most famous role is in 'Legally Blonde'. Clever, funny, unpredictable and an underrated member of the high school movie canon.