January 11, 2015

Don't Lose Focus: Election (1999)

I've always enjoyed reading about and watching really successful people. One of the traits that they all seem to have in common is that they never allow themselves to lose sight of their goals. They're incredibly focused. No matter what obstacles come their way, they stay the course.They also don't spend much time, if any at all, looking back as doing so only slows them down.The same is probably also true for the rest of us; particularly if we ever want to be successful at anything. That's why I recommend the movie Election (1999), which serves as a reminder to not lose focus.

Election 1999film.jpgIn the movie Election (1999), one overachieving high school senior named Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) and a beloved high school teacher named Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) end up squaring off over the high student council election. It all started when Jim saw the perfect opportunity to finally put Tracy in her place after ruining his best friend's teaching career. He decided to convince a football player named Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against her in the student council election. However, all of his efforts of sabotage ultimately didn't pay off when Tracy was elected as president of student council, despite him doing his best to prevent the overachieving temptress from succeeding, yet again.

From the beginning of the movie, it was clear that Jim had it out for Tracy; particularly after he learned that his co-worker/best friend had not only confessed to sleeping with Tracy, but had also lost his job because of it. Although it wasn't his revenge to be had, Jim apparently then took up the cause of putting Tracy in her rightful place. Too bad for him, he had no idea that she was such a worthy opponent, stopping at nothing to get what she wanted because she was focused. Jim, on the other hand, became increasingly unfocused, especially when he began pursing an affair with his wife's best friend.

In the end, Jim was forced to move away to start over after losing everything. With the whole Track Flick incident behind him, he began a renewed focus on his own goals in life. That is, until he saw Tracy again with a Congressman, appearing as his aid, which suddenly reignited his animosity towards her. As it turns out, Tracy not only left high school at the top of her class, but she also attended a well respected school (Georgetown). In affect, her focus (albeit morally questionable at times) lead her down a path to her achieving her goals and success, while Jim's obsession and need for exacting revenge nearly cost him everything. The sad part is that by the looks of things in the last scene of the movie, he didn't learn anything.

With so many apparent themes in this movie, it's hard to say definitively which one is the most prominent. However, one of the most positive themes to take away is perhaps the reminder to not lose focus. You can't achieve your own personal greatness when you do lose focus and besides, with so many obstacles on the path to success why add to your workload.

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