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RUSHMORE is the story of a gifted, rebellious teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a 10th grader at elite Rushmore Academy. Editor of the school newspaper, captain or president of innumerable clubs and societies, Max is also one of the worst students in the school, and the threat of expulsion hangs permanently over his head. Max's world is rocked when he falls for elegant 1st grade teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams) and he plans to erect an aquarium in her honor -- then finds himself competing for her affections with his friend, steel tycoon Mr. Blume (Bill Murray), the wealthy father of two of his classmates.
Wes Anderson's follow-up to the quirky Bottle Rocket is a wonderfully unorthodox coming-of-age story that ranks with Harold and Maude and The Graduate in the pantheon of timeless cult classics. Jason Schwartzman (son of Talia Shire and nephew of Francis Coppola) stars as Max Fischer, a 15-year-old attending the prestigious Rushmore Academy on scholarship, where he's failing all of his classes but is the superstar of the school's extracurricular activities (head of the drama club, the beekeeper club, the fencing club...). Possessing boundless confidence and chutzpah, as well as an aura of authority he seems to have been born with, Max finds two unlikely soulmates in his permutations at Rushmore: industrial magnate and Rushmore alumnus Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and first-grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). His alliance with Blume and crush on Miss Cross, however, are thrown out of kilter by his expulsion from Rushmore, and a budding romance between the two adults that threatens Max's own designs on the lovely schoolteacher.
Never stooping to sentimentality or schmaltz, Anderson and cowriter Owen Wilson have fashioned a wickedly intelligent and wildly funny tale of young adulthood that hits all the right notes in its mix of melancholy and optimism. As played by Schwartzman, Max is both immediately endearing and ferociously irritating: smarter than all the adults around him, with little sense of his shortcomings, he's an unstoppable dynamo who commands grudging respect despite his outlandish projects (including a school play about Vietnam). Murray, as the tycoon who determinedly wages war with Max for the affections of Miss Cross, is a revelation of middle-aged resignation. Disgusted with his family, his life, and himself, he's turned around by both Max's antagonism and Miss Cross's love. Williams is equally affecting as the teacher who still carries a torch for her dead husband, and the superb supporting cast also includes Seymour Cassel as Max's barber father, Brian Cox as the frustrated headmaster of Rushmore, and a hilarious Mason Gamble as Max's young charge. Put this one on your shelf of modern masterpieces. --Mark Englehart
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Max Fischer(played to perfection by Jason Schwartzman)reminded me so much of myself, not only in his odd tastes, his somewhat mean-mannered behavior, his flaws, his everything, really. Max first meets Miss Cross after reading a passage she wrote into a book about the sea, a quote from Jacques Cousteau, he falls in love with her almost immediately. And through his naive encounters and constant strains to try and convince her she is the one for him, and he the one for her, he only manages to push her away, and lose what he wanted most. And through this, we see Max grow up, and become more mature. To me, the film was almost a mirror of what I was feeling at the time, depressed, angry, "in love", etc. it showed me something new, hope. And for the first time in a film it didn't seem cheap or trite, or whatever, it felt real, to me at least, and my own twisted up world view, but that doesn't matter. I never ever went to the extremes Max did, in fact, I never acted on my attractions what so ever, but I felt a kind of... I dunno soulful connection between Max and myself, for better or worse, he almost is exactly like me. Yes, I know this wasn't the "average" review, but I wanted to say WHY this film is so important to me, and why, after seeing it about ten times since, and about a year and half since I FIRST saw it, it still packs an emotional punch at the end when the curtains are drawn. This film isn't for everyone, so everyone shouldn't necessarily go see it. It's classic Wes Anderson dry, dead-pan humor, if you dont get it, you probably never will. The film is a lot like Harold and Maude and even the Graduate, but still functions solely in and of itself. This film isn't guaranteed to effect most people in the same way it did me, because most people dont have that first hand experience with what the film more or less deals with, and also in an innocent way, not like in a dark foreign art house film that'd make the thing into a very dark and disturbing endeavor, here, to me and my experiences, Rushmore couldn't BE anymore realistic. This is most definitely in my top ten favorite films, but probably only because of my experiences, check it out if you think you'll like it, it will certainly be worth it.
I have grown to love Wes Anderson and his films, all somewhat surrealistic, and more than obviously inspired by both New Hollywood films of the sixties and also the artistic and cinematography of French New Wave films like Breathless, Pierot Le Fou and Jules et Jim(referenced slightly in the Life Aquatic, "Not This One."). I decided to keep this review personal, and completely non-objective, because, well, I cant be objective with this film, its too near and dear to me to do that, so yes, I am biased, but please, be biased with me? :)
Quite simply one of the most original films about adolescence ever made. An unlikely love triangle between a unique oddly brilliant 'cool geek' teenager, his teacher and a local business tycoon that's simultaneously funny, absurd and heartbreaking.
Jason Schwartzman is great, and Bill Murray may do his best work ever - side-splittingly funny, but with a damaged, sad, sometimes dangerous edge just under the surface.
As in all of Anderson's films, terrific use of songs as score, wonderfully inventive transitions and visual framing. And a lot of fun.
I will say the Criterion blu-ray version has notably better picture quality than the standard release, and some terrific extras (the regular release is
pretty bare bones). It's more expensive, but worth it for a film you're likely to return to repeatedly.