When I first saw this biting, Spirit Award-winning and Oscar-nominated satire last spring, I had great admiration for the efforts of all involved, not the least of which those of director/co-scripter (with Jim Taylor) Alexander Payne. But only after listening to Payne’s running commentary on the Election DVD did I get a real idea of just how meticulous his work on the film is. No cast or other crew join Payne on the track, but he is lively enough to carry it on his own, and his insights into the film are fascinating. Among the wonderfully subtle details pointed out: teacher Jim McAllister’s (Matthew Broderick) consistently circular paths, as opposed to straight lines travelled by ambitious student Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon); the pervasive presence of garbage in the film; the “T” configuration that marks the introduction of sophomore Tammy Metzler (Jessica Campbell). To listen to the commentary track is to watch the film with new eyes.
It’s all the more disappointing, then, that Paramount didn’t do a better job with the presentation. The menus are static and boring, and Payne’s commentary is the only real supplement provided on the disc; not even the film’s trailer is included, let alone some of the deleted scenes that Payne references in the commentary. While the commentary is enough to recommend it, one can only hope that this skimpy disc is only a warm-up for a more extensive special edition to be issued in the future.