It's now been 20 years since Alexander Payne's "Election" hit theaters. What could have been a simple teen comedy instead turned out to be one of the most insightful political satires of the '90s. The fact that it helped launch the career of star Reese Witherspoon is just icing on the cake. So celebrate this cinematic milestone by learning some fun facts about "Election."
1. The film is based on the 1998 novel of the same name by writer Tom Perrotta. Perrotta sold the rights a year before the novel was published.
2. Perrotta, in turn, was inspired by the 1992 presidential election and a news story about a pregnant high school student in Wisonsin who had her homecoming crown voided by the school.
3.Matthew Broderick's character Jim has a diet that deteriorates along with his behavior. In the beginning of the movie, he's shown eating a salad. By the end, he's gorging on pie and throwing milkshakes.
4.Melissa Joan Hart auditioned for the lead role before Witherspoon was ultimately cast as Tracy.
5.Chris Klein made his acting debut in "Election." He was discovered because he happened to be walking down the hall when Payne was scouting Millard West High School in Omaha, Nebraska as a potential shooting location.
6. Even using actual high school students as extras, Payne had trouble finding enough extras to fill the crowd scenes. This was in part because filming took place during the busy SAT prep season.
7.Thora Birch was originally cast as Tammy Metzler, but she quit a few days into filming due to ongoing friction with Payne.
8. Payne snuck a hidden message into one of the newspaper articles featured onscreen. It complains about the difficulty in writing fake newspaper copy and directs viewers to watch 1997's "Citizen Ruth."
9. Paul is called to the principal's office to find out about his election loss right as his Spanish class is shown conjugating the verb "perder," which means "to lose."
10. The film's ending was re-shot. The original ending sticks closer to the novel and features Tracy encountering Jim working at a local car dealership.
11. While "Election" was a box office failure upon release, it's since developed a sizable cult following. According to Payne, Barack Obama has named it his favorite political film of all time.