There’s something I hate about election season. No, it’s not all of those negative ads. No, it’s not the wall to wall coverage on the news networks, It isn’t even the campaigning that closes streets and makes you late for work. It’s the fact that every studio decides to dust off any title they think is even remotely political in nature and put it out, hoping to cash in on the perceived political craze. Of course, there is no craze out there, and all they are really doing is making sure the discount bins are going to be overflowing at your local Wal Mart.
Election has to be the product of that kind of thinking. Why else would a film this bad and with no spectacular visuals to show off beat quality films like Jaws and Lord Of The Rings to the high definition format? Paramount, I love you guys, I really do, but do you honestly think that anyone was holding their breath for this title on Blu-ray? With a $25 million budget in 1999 the film brought in just under $15 million total box office. It was the 97th ranked film in 1999 in total gross (giving new meaning to the word).
First off, this film has very little to do with politics. Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) is a spoiled go-getter at George Washington Carver High School. She had an affair with a teacher that got him fired, and she remained unscathed. When she announces her plans to run for school student president, it causes concern for her civics teacher and student government advisor, Mr. McAllister (Broderick). McAllister was a friend to the fired teacher, so he doesn’t have a high opinion of Flick to begin with. Once he realizes that they’ll be forced to spend a ton of time together if she wins, he drums up some competition right quick. Meet former jock star Paul Metzler (Klein) who lost his purpose in life after breaking his leg. Now he has a purpose, and Flick has some competition, but Election still doesn’t have a workable plot. You see, the film is bogged down by various sexual exploits and mundane meanderings that continue to take us away from what little story we have here. Someone figured out that the plot might be good for about 2 laughs and a 20 minute running time. So, the remainder of this movie is crap.
Matthew Broderick is terrible as the teacher here. Ever wonder what it would have been like if Ferris Bueller were in charge? Wonder no longer. Witherspoon looks like she’s on some kind of pep drugs and wins the award for the most annoying character yet on Blu-ray. You won’t end up liking anybody here, and there just aren’t enough laughs to cover the plot holes that are large enough to fly a starship through. Skip it. If you really, really, must check it out, wait a couple of months. It’s going to be one of the first $4 Blu-rays.
Election is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Not only is this not the kind of film that would benefit much from an HD release, it’s not a good looking film. The lighting is terrible and cast a terrible pale on most of the colors. There are some obvious signs of print damage that was obviously not deemed important enough to fix. Yes, you get a pretty average 1080p image using an AVC/MPEG-4 codec, but this is not a film just brimming with detail or color. Black levels, like everything else, are maybe average.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is a perfect match for this film. It’s dialog they send you, and it’s dialog you get. Nothing more to say.
There is a lame audio commentary with Alexander Payne which is painful on the ears.
He filmed this in his home town, so we have some trips down memory lane. He complains about how Hollywood just wasn’t willing to give him a chance. Take it from Hollywood and don’t.
Just the Audio Commentary.
This job is often a pretty cool gig. I mean, think about it. Someone gives us movies and we get to rant or gush about them and hopefully influence a person here and there in their shopping habits. If you’re a home theatre junkie, it’s like getting paid to have fun. Once in a while, however, you do have to pay the piper. Every now and then a film comes along that is so painful to watch that you would ordinarily have just walked away. However, duty calls, and you have to sit through to the bitter end. Such was the case with Election. Let me at least have the hope in my heart that I saved someone a few bucks and a couple hours of their life. So maybe I’m like a paramedic or a policeman, saving lives, 2 hours at a time. Yes, this is a very sweet gig. “Things were going pretty well in my life; that is until things started going haywire with that damn Election”.