Tracy Flick. The name itself is like a poke in the eye, and as played to infuriating perfection by Reese Witherspoon, Miss Flick is an apex irritant: the sort of perky, bright-eyed, soulless know-it-all we all tried to avoid in high school. In Alexander Payne’s comedy, Tracy is running for president of the student body — but it’s painfully clear that 1) for the rest of her probably unnaturally long life she won’t stop running for something, anything, until her ambitions are sated, and 2) even if she becomes President of the United States, she’ll still be looking around for some other, preferably more powerful office to fill. With its implied message that true politicians are born (or perhaps hatched) and not made, the movie somehow packs more of a wallop — and is certainly far funnier — taking place in a suburban high school than if it had been set in the corridors and back rooms of the nation’s capital.
Next The Candidate (1972)