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Rushmore (1998) – Movie Review

Rushmore movie poster

Written by: Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Brian Cox, Mason Gamble

My Advice: Don’t miss it.

This film is the most disturbingly funny coming of age story since Harold met Maude, and while this movie does have its share of morbid mayhem, love, friendship and Cat Stevens, it’s an entirely different kind of flying…altogether.

Max Fischer (Schwartzman) is a nerd, first and foremost. But instead of being able to work mathematical proofs in his head like your archetypal 15-year-old egghead, he instead has a wild imagination and passion for extracurricular activities. In fact, he’s either founder or president of pretty much every club on the Rushmore Academy’s campus. His grades suck rocks though, and so Prof. Guggenheim (Cox) is on the verge of expelling him. Enter two adults into his life, Harold Blume (Murray), a miserable married man with twin oafs for children and Rosemary Cross (Williams), a recently widowed first grade teacher. Max quickly falls in love with Cross only to have complications arise when his good friend Blume might want Cross for himself.

[ad#longpost]It’s not any one thing that makes this film the work of art it is. It’s everything. Include the clever script which includes nods to everything from Apocalypse Now to The Graduate. Throw in there the fact that the cast is chock full of good actors. Such as Murray–whose talents have been lately used only for buoying up bad films–here he gives a wonderfully understated performance of a man who, as he says, is feeling just a bit lonely these days. Williams plays her confused teacher excellently, making the attraction between herself and Max believable, which could have been a major pothole for this vehicle to dip into. Gamble is perfect as the almost entirely stoic right hand man, er kid, for Max. And Schwartzman himself is a bit of a find–some might think his stone-faced characterization of Max to be about as endearing as an overly amorous hedgehog, but his very age places him in the phase of life where one is way too serious for one’s own good. One can say supposedly profound statements such as “War does funny things to men” and get a few moment’s pause before someone starts sniggering. It’s the fact that everything works just right in order to establish the bizarre and almost disquieting mood, which the film must stay in in order to function properly. This is one of those rare films that gets better the more you think about it, so check it out and be ready to spend some time digesting. A rare treat, which I expect to reach cultdom quickly.