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A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections.

April 23, 1999

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Envy Relish - (Schadenfreude)

Reviewed by Catallaxy

In what seems to be a contrived re-writing of a true story, a high school teacher exacts revenge on an attractive young female student, whose affair with another teacher ended precipitously as this other teacher, loses his job over the incident. We of course, are not shown what really happened. One does, however get the distinct feeling that this movie is based on real events because the details are so realistic, like the scene where the protagonist high school teacher, Matthew Broderick is throwing items out of a refrigerator, and is observed by the janitor, from the hallway, just as one of the packages misses the garbage can and splashes onto the newly cleaned floor. Unaware that he was being observed from behind, Broderick continues to throw things out of the fridge, as the janitor quietly moves on, down the hall.

Reese Witherspoon is supposed to be the quintessential perfect girl living in a perfect world, whom we are presumably supposed to despise. The hatred and venom of the entire script and cast are directed precisely on her character, because she is interested in ethics and morality. This, of course, is a no no, in Hollywood. She is beautiful, gets high marks in all of her classes and wishes to run for student council president, because she wants to make sure that things run, down here in her school, as they do upstairs, in Heaven. Broderick's envy is palpable, as he can only watch, from his low-income life-style vantage point (he drives a Ford Fiesta) as Witherspoon enthusiastically begins to organize her campaign.

Now, how can the audience be made to be against this cute little blond girl, when she is so obviously interested only in doing the right thing? She has to be shown doing something bad, so, in the middle of the film, she tears down her opponents banners, in a school corridor. This is the sole act that can be exploited, by the author, in order to justify the hatred which is thrown at Witherspoon's character. In hindsight, it seems engineered, and not inspired by actual events. Not being able to pin the crime on Witherspoon, Broderick's character throws away some of her supporters votes and rigs the election, so that Witherspoon looses, although she did get the majority support, which she needed to win. Some of the students, who are involved with the election process and the principal, find out about Broderick's ruse and confront him in the principal's office, where the janitor is also present. Broderick is fired and Witherspoon is made president.

Near the end of the movie Witherspoon is seen meeting with a Republican representative, and getting in to his limousine, ostensibly suggesting that Witherspoon's character is an evil right wing person. This is a major no no in Hollywood; interested in morality, ethics AND a REPUBLICAN!! The Horror.

There are some funny moments in the film, despite it's subversive intentions, as Broderick's character is punished for his infidelities with his friend's wife, when he is stung in the right eye, by a wasp.

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