IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH WES ANDERSON REVIEW: “Rushmore” stars Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Klaus), Bill Murray (St Vincent, Zombieland), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense, The Ghost Writer), Seymour Cassel (Dick Tracy, In the Soup), Brian Cox (X2: X-Men United, Adaptation.), Mason Gamble (Dennis the Menace , Gattaca), Sara Tanaka (Old School, Imaginary Heroes), Stephen McCole (Perfect Sense, Outlaw King), Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, Wonder Woman ), and Luke Wilson (Idiocracy, The Ridiculous 6). It is directed by Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel), who also wrote it with Owen Wilson (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums). Max Fischer (Schwartzman), a kid heavily involved in extra-curriculars at Rushmore Preparatory School, falls on troubling times when his school places him on academic probation. To make matters worse, Fischer falls in love with the school’s newest first grade teacher Miss Cross (Williams), putting his state at Rushmore in jeopardy.
I can’t begin to tell you all how ecstatic I am to dive back into the realm of Wes Anderson. And what a lovely way to kick it off: “Rushmore.” Honestly, it’s the sleeper hit of 1998. Hidden in the folds of “The Big Lebowski,” “The Truman Show,” and “Saving Private Ryan” among others (geez, what a year for film), this gem is quite a masterpiece. Not yet reaching the Anderson style we’ve come to know all too well nowadays, his second motion picture roots itself heavily in its unique characters; particularly with the lead role of Max Fischer, portrayed by Jason Schwartzman. Max has to be one of the most fun, fresh, and relatable characters in cinema (at least, for a recent college grad). Figuratively, he’s an adult man living in the body of a fifteen year old. He loves the private school he attends, Rushmore Preparatory School, but not for the reasons teachers would want. He doesn’t care about classes, instead relishing in the social life Rushmore has to offer, with its various clubs, sports, and plays it has at its disposal (some of which Max created himself). This kid is into everything, and is a genius when it comes to organizing and getting things done. If only he could bring up his failing grades… Mind you, I’m not so much relating to the character aspect of him sucking in his classes. Rather, I found it enlightening in how Max just lives life. It’s complex, fast-paced, and wonderous. With the introduction of a new first grade teacher, however, everything goes to crap for Fischer. He falls in love, and can’t help but screw himself over in order to impress her. Among the motley crew of characters is also Herman Blume, played fantastically by Bill Murray (who got quite a few accolades for the role). This is the first time we see Murray in an Anderson picture, and it’ll spark an iconic partnership for many years to come. Blume’s chemistry with Fischer is terrific; a broken man living in doubt bonds with a bright adolescent living in splendor. I could go on and on about these two, but I’ll save it in case you want to see it for yourself (which you should). Honestly, to continue this review would be a waste of a read. WATCH “RUSHMORE”! There you go. Not satisfied? Okay, I’ll go further. What strikes me most about Anderson’s picture is just how raw it is. Sure, we get his stylistic flair every now and then, but for the most part this movie lives and dies by the themes expressed by its characters. There’s emotional intensity that hides underneath a luscious sense of innocence, only creeping out when the going gets tough. And boy, as this progresses do things get tough. I grinned, I laughed, but more importantly, I cried. Yes folks, happy tears, at the film’s conclusion. It moved me immensely, with a beautiful slow-motion dolly out to finish things off (all to the song of “Ooh La La” by the Faces). The movie is an engaging journey of pleasurable discovery. It speaks on life, love, and everything in-between, either unspoken or tied to a lie. The banter posed by Anderson and Owen Wilson (wow) has two sides to it, especially when it comes to Max, who talks a big game. It’s intricate, irritating, and at the same time… well, fun. I love to use that adjective with this because it makes the most sense. You will have fun watching “Rushmore,” beginning to end. The cinematography, acting, and direction of this piece soar, traversing through the months of a typical school semester only to end with a bang. It’s characters are genuine and their motives interesting. There’s nothing more I can say. Well, I guess I can discuss cons… yeah… very little comes to mind. If anything, I’ll say the cutting together of monthly title cards became rather forgetful. The months tend to last an eternity, so when they transition to a new one it comes off as jarring. But then again… it helps inform us the changing of seasons… People, it’s obvious what my thoughts are on this. “Rushmore” has to be one of my favorite Wes Anderson pictures, coming close to my ultimate choice, “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” You’re doing yourself a disservice by not seeing it. FINAL SCORE: 97%= Juicy Popcorn
This film has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: