There seems to be only one candidate for the student presidency of Carver High School, Omaha, and that is ferociously ambitious Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon). However, through the sly intervention of teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), who has personal reasons for disliking Tracy, a dumb but popular sports hero, Paul Metzler (Chris Klein), enters the fray, followed by his embittered gay sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell), who aims to sabotage the whole contest.
As well as evoking schooldays as the nastiest of your lives, this dark high-school satire offers a veritable primer on the politics of dirty tricks, as the election (not unlike political elections) spawns malpractice, infidelity and corruption. Reese Witherspoon has all the feistiness and charisma of a ruthless politician in the making, while Matthew Broderick has never been better as the hapless teacher whose life starts to unravel with the aid of an unexpected bee-sting and a tell-tale trash can. Payne cheerily juggles a complicated narrative with consummate aplomb.