Election (1999 film)

1999 film by Alexander Payne

Election is a 1999 film about a high school teacher's personal life that becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections.

Directed by Alexander Payne. Written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta.
Reading. Writing. Revenge.

James T. "Jim" McAllister

  • Linda never came home. I know, because I waited 10 hours outside her house.
  • [while counting the votes, he sees Tracy in the hall looking into the room] The sight of Tracy at that moment affected me in a way I can't fully explain. Part of it was that she was spying; but mostly it was her face. Who knew how high she would climb in life? How many people would suffer because of her? I had to stop her... now!
  • [mocking the students] Mr.McAllister. Mr.McAllister. Somebody's torn down my poster. It's not fair. Can I get an A? Can I get a recommendation? Can I? Can I? Fuck them.
  • narrating while a scene shows primitive people in a museum setting What happens to a man when he loses everything? Everything he's worked for... everything he believes in? Driven from his home... cast out of society... how can he survive? Where can he go? scene changes to immigrants getting off a ship at Ellis Island New York City! For centuries people have come to New York seeking refuge from their troubled lives. Now I am one of them...I got a job at the Museum of Natural History as an educator. That is for people with past experience in education who cater to field trips, showing students the meaning of the exhibit. That is right, I am teaching again.
  • [voiceover] You might ask if I ever saw Tracy Flick again. Well, I did. Just once. I was down in Washington for a museum educator's conference, and I stayed an extra day to do some sightseeing. After an inspiring morning on the mall, I was on my way to the Holocaust Museum when... I'll never know if she saw me. Probably not. But in that moment, all the bad memories, all the things I'd ever wanted to say to her, it all came flooding back. My first impulse was to run over there, pound on her window, and demand that she admit she tore down those posters and lied and cheated her way into winning that election. But, instead, I just stood there. And I suddenly realized I wasn't angry at her anymore. I just felt sorry for her. I mean, when I think about my new life and all the exciting things I'm doing, and then I think about what her life must be like—probably still getting up at five in the morning to pursue her pathetic little dreams—it just makes me sad. I mean, where is she really trying to get to anyway? What is she doing in that limo? Who the fuck does she think she is?!

Tracy Flick

  • [narrating] None of this would have happened if Mr. McAllister hadn't meddled the way he did. He should have just accepted things as they are instead of trying to interfere with destiny. You see, you can't interfere with destiny. That's why it's destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing's going to happen anyway, and you'll just suffer.
  • It's like my mom says, "The weak are always trying to sabotage the strong."
  • as narrator You might think it upset me that Paul Metzler had decided to run against me but nothing could be further from the truth. He was no competition for me; it was like apples and oranges. I had to work a little harder, that's all, see I believe in the voters; they understand that elections aren't just popularity contests, they know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don't have everything handed to them on a silver spoon. Not like some rich kids who everybody likes because their fathers owns Metzler's Cement and give them trucks on their 16th birthday and throw them big parties all the time. Scene shows Tracy on the school bus, looking out the window at Paul standing by his pickup truck joking with some friends No, they don't ever have to work for anything. They think they can just all of a sudden one day out of the blue waltz right in with no qualifications whatsoever and try to take away what other people have worked very, very hard for their entire lives. No, it didn't bother me at all.
  • I don't know what you're referring to, but maybe if certain older, wiser people hadn't acted like such little babies, and gotten so mushy, then everything would be OK... and I think certain older people, like you, and your colleague, shouldn't be leching after their students, especially when some of them can't even get their own wives pregnant... and they certainly shouldn't be making slanderous accusations, especially when certain young, naive peoples' mothers are paralegal secretaries at the city's biggest law firm, and have won many successful lawsuits, and if you want to keep questioning me like this, I won't continue without my attorney present.
  • narrating We got a lot of work done on student council, and I graduated in the 93rd percentile of my class. I got accepted to Georgetown, but it turned out to be a disappointment for me socially. At this point I was hoping to finally meet more people like me, but it turned out to be mostly full of lazy rich kids whose families had connections. scene shows Tracy yelling at loud kids to keep it down in the hallway. I guess Mr. Novotny was right, people like us are special. I was surprised that I did not think about him that much, but what I miss most are our talks. I wonder if he ever did finish that novel? Scene cuts to Dave in a big box store, wearing an employee's uniform and retagging prices.

Tammy Metzler

  • It's not like I'm a lesbian or anything. I'm attracted to the person. It's just that all the people I've been attracted to happen to be girls.
  • If you died right now, I would throw myself into one of my Dad's cement trucks and get poured into your tomb.
  • Sometimes when I'm sad, I sit and watch the power station. They say if you lie between two of the main wires, your body just evaporates... you become a gas. I wonder what that would feel like.
  • [her campaign speech] "Who cares about this stupid election? We all know it doesn't matter who gets elected president of Carver. Do you really think it's going to change anything around here? Make one single person smarter... or happier... or nicer? The only person it does matter to is the one who gets elected. The same pathetic charade happens every year, and everyone makes the same pathetic promises, just so they can put it on their transcripts to get into college. So vote for me. Because I don't even want to go to college, and I don't care. And as president, I won't do anything. The only promise I will make is that... if elected, I will immediately dismantle the student government, so that none of us will ever have to sit through one of these stupid assemblies again! [Student body erupts in huge cheers] Or don't vote for me! Who cares? Don't vote at all! [More cheers and a standing ovation]
  • [narrating] Being suspended is like getting a paid vacation. Why do they think it's a punishment? It's like your dog pees on the carpet and you give him a treat. Then you get in trouble for skipping school, it's sooo stupid! Hendricks told me, "One more time" and I'd be expelled. Sounded good to me.

Paul Metzler

  • There were a lot of things said about Mr. McAllister, so I do not know what is true. I do not care about what he did or did not do. All I know is that he helped me out and I believe that he is a good guy.


Jim McAllister{as narrator}: There is something else about Tracy.
Dave Novotny: Her pussy gets so wet. Jim looks in shock at hearing this about one of his students
Jim: Dave Novotny came to Carver during my second year teaching there. In a way he was one of those guys who never really left high school. Scene shows Dave and Jim jamming to Jimi Hendrix while their wives are having coffee Dave and I hit it off instantly, as did his wife Linda with my wife Diane. In addition to being coworkers; they leased the house next to mine.
Tracy Flick{as narrator}: Mr. Novotny was my sophomore math teacher. During that time our relationship was strictly professional. I got to know him when I worked on the yearbook committee. During my senior year we celebrated the yearbook going to print. Scene shows students enjoying themselves in a pizzeria, then later changes to show Dave alone with Tracy
Dave: You know Tracy, I noticed you have no close friends.
Tracy: Really?
Dave: I didn't mean it to be critical. What I meant is it can be hard for most people to relate to someone as amazing as you.
Tracy: Gosh, thanks.
Scene shows Dave driving Tracy to his home, making out with her to the Commodores, then taking her into his bedroom and shutting the door
Scene cuts to Jim and Dave
Dave: Tracy is inspiring my novel.
Jim: Novel? Since when did you write a novel?
Dave: I haven't. You see, it is in me. Tracy is bringing it out from me, so she can read it!
Jim: [about Dave sleeping with Tracy] Dave, I'm just saying this as your friend: What you're doing is really, really wrong... and you've gotta stop. The line you've crossed is... it's immoral... and it's illegal.
Dave: Jim, come on, I don't need a lecture on ethics.
Jim: I'm not talking about ethics, I'm talking about morals.
Dave: There's a difference?

Love letter is being read
Love letter: Tracy, I really, really, need you now. Your "teacher", Dave.
Camera pans out to show hand holding the love letter belongs to Mr. Hendrix, the headmaster. Dave Novotny and Jim McAllister are in the headmaster's office
Walt Hendrix: I had my share of parents, but Mrs. Flick was the Conniption Queen when she found this while cleaning her daughter's room! Now, I know what Tracy told her mother and I know what Mrs. Flick told me. I have an ethical, moral and legal obligation to hear it from you Dave, so I will ask you this one time: Did you cross the line with this girl?
Dave looks at Jim, who gives a nervous look back to him
Dave Novotny{crying}: I...uh...she...We are in love!
Novotny residence. Dave is on his knees with his wife, who is rapidly packing a suitcase
Linda Novotny{enraged}: Your novel? Are you fucking kidding me? You did it with a child?! In our home!
Dave Novotny: Linda, please!
Jim McAllister{as narrator}: After Dave got fired, Linda threw him out of the house. I do not blame Tracy for this one. Dave was more than twice her age. After Dave was unemployed and divorced, he went to live with his family in Kansas City and I lost touch with him. He is actually pretty lucky he is not in prison for what he did.

Jim McAllister: [trying to convince Paul to run against Tracy] Paul, what is your favorite fruit?
Paul Metzler: Pears.
Jim McAllister: Okay, now...
Paul Metzler: No wait! Apples.
Jim McAllister: Great, now say that everyday you had an apple. An apple, an apple and more apples. You probably thought that apples were pretty good, even if you got a rotten one every once in awhile. Then one day there was an orange. Now you can choose, do you want an apple or do you want an orange? That's democracy.
Paul Metzler: I also like bananas.
Jim McAllister: Exactly!

Tracy Flick: Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now, I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Paul Metzler doesn't, as you well know. I realize that it was your divine hand that disqualified Tammy Metzler and now I'm asking that you go that one last mile and make sure to put me in office where I belong so that I may carry out your will on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Tammy Metzler: Dear God, I know I don't believe in you, but since I'll be starting Catholic school soon, I though I should at least practice. Let's see. What do I want? I want Lisa to realize what a bitch she is and feel really bad and apologize for how she hurt me and know how much I still love her. In spite of everything, I still want Paul to win the election tomorrow, not that cunt Tracy. Oh, and I also want a really expensive pair of leather pants and someday, I wanna be really good friends with Madonna. Love, Tammy.
Paul Metzler: Dear God, thank you for all your blessings. You've given me so many things, like good health, nice parents, a nice truck, and what I'm told is a large penis, and I'm very grateful, but I sure am worried about Tammy. In my heart, I still can't believe she tore down my posters, but sometimes, she does get so weird and angry. Please help her be a happier person because she's so smart and sensitive and I love her so much. Also, I'm nervous about the election tomorrow and I guess I want to win and all, but I know that's totally up to you. You'll decide who the best person is and I'll accept it. And forgive me for my sins, whatever they may be. Amen.


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