Top 5 election themed movies

For the day that’s in it, we chose five of the best election themed movies…

Here at, we are not adverse to politics, and we always think the US Presidential elections are fascinating, simply because their campaign laws allow them to say things that would never be allowed in Ireland. However, it does seem as though this election campaign has been going on for a long time so, now that it is voting day at the other side of the Atlantic, it may be time to decompress slightly.

Only slightly though… We all know it is dangerous to go cold turkey so, here, for your political health, are some election themed movies to keep you going now that America has gone to the polls…


The Campaign

Yes, we know this only came out earlier this year, but it really was a touch of movie marketing genius to have The Campaign come out in an election year. Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) is used to running for office unopposed, but when he mistakenly leaves a message meant for his mistress on a unsuspecting family’s answering machine, the powers that be decide that Cam’s days are numbered. Enter first time runner Marty Huggins (Zach Galifinakis) and some dirty tricks.

Ferrell shouts a lot – as you would expect – and Zach Galifinakis is great with his simpering Republican character, but it is John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd that steal the show, as the manipulative heads of a corporation who want to bring slave labour to America. Lithgow’s performance is reminiscent of his terrifying turn as B.Z. in Santa Claus the Movie, and it is obvious that he relishes playing the over the top villain. All he, and the equally great Dan Aykroyd are short of doing is practicing their evil laughs and stomping on bunnies… Or something.



Election is not the only politically themed movie that Reese Witherspoon has made, but it is the only one that is not Legally Blonde: Red, White and Blonde, a movie that we would like to forget.

In Election, Witherspoon stars as Tracy Flick, a vindictive, manipulative and overachieving high school student who is hell bent on getting into university. So determined in fact, that Tracy is willing to do anything in order to win the student body election. Witherspoon embraces the dark humour of the film and showcases the talent that propelled her to stardom.


The Manchurian Candidate

A former Korean War prisoner of war is brainwashed in order to become a political assassin. Another former prisoner may know how to save him, but will he be able to reach him in time?

The Manchurian Candidate was released in 1962, and starred Laurence Harvey in one of his final high profile roles. The film also starred Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. Although The Manchurian Candidate was remade in 2004, the original is still inventive, creepy and tense. The film was far ahead of it’s time in 1962 and, while the remake may have moved it into the present day, the themes of thought control and paranoia in the original are gripping and unsettling.


Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite may not be solely about an election, but it is hard to deny that Jon Heder’s dance to Jamiroquai was anything other than inspired and the Vote for Pedro tshirt became a small phenomenon in 2004.

In case you are unaware of Napoleon Dynamite, the film centres around Napoleon; a high school student who is incredibly socially awkward, but the king of his own world. When his friend decides to run for class president, Napoleon decides to support him in a rare display of selflessness.


Dave is not a tense political thriller, but it is a fun look at what it must be like to become the Leader of the Free World. Dave (Kevin Kline) has a side job impersonating President Bill Mitchell at supermarkets and the like – Dave came out in 1993, remember – but is asked to step into the President’s shoes when Mitchell suffers a stroke.

Dave plays with the old ideas of mistaken identity and what someone does when they are thrust into a position of power. Director Ivan Reitman blends political satire with a little charm, and Dave ends up a light but feel good movie about good people in positions of power.


Words – Brogen Hayes