Reese Witherspoon was set on the path to movie stardom by two movies: Legally Blonde in 2001 and Election two years prior, where she played ambitious high school student Tracy Flick, who runs afoul of her school’s social studies teacher (Matthew Broderick) in the midst of an election for school president. The movie was an arthouse hit and an Academy Award nominee, and along with Legally Blonde, it established Witherspoon as a major young star.
Election was based on a novel by author Tom Perrotta, and earlier this year Perrotta actually published a sequel: Tracy Flick Can’t Win, which follows Tracy as a middle-aged woman. And now the novel is getting a movie adaptation — with Reese Witherspoon set to reprise her role from Election.
Here is the official synopsis of Perrotta’s Tracy Flick Can’t Win novel:
Tracy Flick is a hardworking assistant principal at a public high school in suburban New Jersey. Still ambitious but feeling a little stuck and underappreciated in midlife, Tracy gets a jolt of good news when the longtime principal, Jack Weede, abruptly announces his retirement, creating a rare opportunity for Tracy to ascend to the top job. Energized by the prospect of her long-overdue promotion, Tracy throws herself into her work with renewed zeal, determined to prove her worth to the students, faculty, and School Board, while also managing her personal life—a ten-year-old daughter, a needy doctor boyfriend, and a burgeoning meditation practice. But nothing ever comes easily to Tracy Flick, no matter how diligent or qualified she happens to be. Her male colleagues’ determination to honor Vito Falcone—a star quarterback of dubious character who had a brief, undistinguished career in the NFL—triggers memories for Tracy and leads her to reflect on the trajectory of her own life. As she considers the past, Tracy becomes aware of storm clouds brewing in the present. Is she really a shoo-in for the principal job? Is the Superintendent plotting against her? Why is the School Board President’s wife trying so hard to be her friend? And why can’t she ever get what she deserves?
In addition to Witherspoon, Election’s director, Alexander Payne, and his writing partner, Jim Taylor, are both on board for this sequel, which will be made for the Paramount+ streaming service.
Obviously Hollywood makes way too many sequels these days. Neverttheless, this is an idea that has a lot of potential. In Election, Tracy was the young and energetic kid whose atittude and worldview stood in contrast with Broderick’s cynical, depressed, middle-aged teacher. But what happens when the young and energetic kid gets older and has her own disappointments? How has the world around Tracy — and its attitude toward ambitious women — changed since then? It’s the perfect set-up for a sequel many years later.
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