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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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I can't imagine this film without Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. They are both so good here. You can't help liking them, loathing them, pitying them, laughing at them, cheering for them, and hoping for them to find some thread of happiness. They start out friends, then enemies, then friends again but stronger. This film really is about friendships.
Max Fischer is easily one of the most fascinating and interesting characters I have encountered in the movies. He is a creative dynamo and yet he is flawed and vulnerable. Max is (pardon all the adjectives) witty, cruel, clever, resilient, funny, dangerous, foolish, brilliant, lonely, formidable, and damaged. This is not a character you've seen before in a film.
I was particularly impressed with one friendship in "Rushmore", which was that of Dirk and Max. I felt their history together; you just know they've been buddies for a long time, and have had many schemes and fun times... and when there was a big rift between them, I actually was hoping that their bond would not be broken permanently.
When it comes down to it, this is (for me) a love story about a young man and the time of his life. Rushmore is more than a school to Max, it is a time. I remember that time in my life, and I think that the fact that it has to end or change is rather sad and unfair (but inevitable). It's a heady time with so many things going on: changes, self image issues, first loves, learning, socializing, making mistakes, friendship, creating, failing, fighting, and slowly beginning to discover your place in life. "Rushmore" captures a genuine taste of this time.
I really wish "Rushmore" had become a TV series, an hourly 'dramedy'. It has a perfect setting and characters for that. The film left me wanting to see more stories involving Max and his world.
Each of the featured characters is scarred by one or more of the following: loss, lies and love. The juxtaposition throughout of how it affects the individual and the situation with others involved is subtle, yet vital.
Jason Schwartzman is the rebellious teen, Max Fischer, whose life is structured around his extra-curricular responsibilities at Rushmore Academy. But he is teetering on expulsion due to poor grades, though he has a gift in playwriting and bringing people into his real-life drama.
Bill Murray (school booster, Mr. Blume) and Olivia Williams (first grade teacher, Miss Cross), respectively, capture the hard work of a man who has built great wealth - in the steel industry - but has not forgotten where he came from and the young, overqualified teacher who has special, altruistic reasons to enter the field.
With each scene building upon each other, there is not a wasted moment in the 93 minutes, with the climax being a rich and fitting means for the cast to take a bow.
A soundtrack which highlights the sounds from the British Invasion adds a timeless, pop culture quality to this most perfect comedy.