The Third Monday In October

Big Year Productions. 91 minutes.
Billed as a mash-up of Election and Spellbound, this film is a charming portrait of four middle-school presidential elections.

Billed as a mash-up of Election and Spellbound, this film is a charming portrait of four middle-school presidential elections. You know the drill: There are the popular kids, such as the Marin County, California, girl who admits that she'll win votes because she's pretty, "But that's just the way things go." Then there are the overachievers, like the self-described "politically obsessed dynamo" from Austin. Yet the one to root for is Mick Del Rosario, an utterly winning kid from San Francisco, who runs on a platform of "More fun! Pure democracy!!!" Adolescent drama abounds, but the real story here—as in adult politics—is about money. Mick, whose immigrant dad works two jobs, makes do with a hand-lettered poster, while his suburban peers and their parents print up stickers and T-shirts. At Mick's inner-city school, crummy used textbooks are a hot-button issue; across the San Francisco Bay, candidates promise better flavors of Jamba Juice in the cafeteria. Unfortunately, this divide is one of several questions left unexplored as the filmmakers opt for sound bites over substance.