Saturday, May 21, 2011

Classic - Rushmore

or: Private schooler in public school.

One word to sum it up: Whimsical.

There are two types of over-achievers at high school: the ones who spend their life studying and know everything, even if it won't ever help them in the future; and then there are the people who have to be involved with everything. The people who have to head the school productions, but usually have to also be playing a sport or organizing a certain know the ones. Now, if I were to have my pick out of the two, I'd be the kid who joins in with everything...but, living where I live, there aren't funny little clubs to join with. Instead, I'm just taking part in Stage Challenge, but if I had enough talent, I wouldn't keep pretending to be smart when I'm actually really dumb. I would be like Max (Jason Schwartzman), the protagonist in Wes Anderson's early classic feature Rushmore. I would direct really flash looking plays with names like 'Serpico' and I would do fencing. Okay, fencing kinda scares me, so we'll take that off the list...

Anyway, Max is a prime example of why you can only be either an over-achiever at school or an over-achiever at extra-curricular activities, not both at the same time. He's in every club possible, in fact, he founded most of the clubs, and he also writes and directs his own intricate school plays which give him a wide reputation. But he's not so good with his school work, and of course, school is more important than everything else. So Max tries desperately to stay in the safety of his private school by trying desperately to up his grades. As he tries to do this, he is introduced to two substantial figures in his life. The first is an industrialist named Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who is disillusioned with life and becomes a good friend to Max. The second is Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a first grade teacher who lost her husband and is clinging on to his memory, even though she becomes the object of both Max and Blume's affection.

Rushmore is an indeed an odd film. But it's exactly what you would expect from Wes Anderson, a film filled with originality and a look at the stranger side of life. That's a very good place to be. However, you can't be too strange without having believable characters, and that's exactly where Rushmore succeeds. Max is a character who we all feel we have known at one point in our lives. He's cocky, the very example of what some private schoolers are actually like, and, well, he's hopelessly in love with someone he can't have. Jason Schwartzman, in his first feature film, seems to take this character from being an annoying arrogant prick to being someone who you wish would just steer clear of trouble. But like most film characters, he doesn't listen. Sometimes you have to wonder why he was so in love with Rosemary. She isn't exactly the type of woman who would be the object of a young teenage boy's affection. Yes, she's pretty and she is really lovely, but she was so caught up in loving her dead husband that she cut herself off from the world. My dear Olivia Williams does a tremendous job of playing her, though, so you can see why Max fell for her.

Adding Bill Murray to the mix is always a win. His character is a strange, almost dark figure in Max's life. You can't really figure out whether he is good for Max or not, because he may take an active interest in Max because he is so bored with his own life, but he steals Max's 'true love'. So he's really the villain who just wants to be friends, which is an interesting mix, to say the least. However, Murray is as enjoyable ever, and remains a stand-out in this film. While Rushmore is clever and realistic, I felt like I never really got into it. It was cool watching a teenager heralding a revolutionary story and winning in life, but I just felt so distant from it. I don't know how that emptiness came about, because this film really has everything covered. It's funny, emotional and exciting, but it's just not there. Which is a shame, but it's even more annoying that I don't know why I didn't feel for it.

THE VERDICT: Rushmore is a charming tale of being a teenage boy who's good at everything that doesn't matter, and just about what you could expect from Wes Anderson.

What I hoped for:

What I got:


  1. I love this film, my personal favourite of all Wes Anderson creations. I for one could really connect with Max, even though technically I was an over-achiever in school. I think I envy his ability to do everything else. And he's just so adorable too. I find it more relateable than Royal fact I found that film empty in many ways. Rushmore is sunny and happy, and even the sadder parts amuse you. Also ofcourse, who would not wanna see Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray fight over a girl, that too someone as pretty as Olivia Williams.

    1. while your views regarding Rushmore are on point, you couldn't be more wrong about The Royal Tenenbaums. The emptiness you felt has to be blamed on your emotional ability of understanding, because it can't be blamed on the film. I would suggest you re-watch Tenenbaums again. If you still feel empty then you have never had a father, or grappled with the disappointment of watching someone you love not live up to your expectations.

  2. It sounds like it has The Royal Tenenbaums syndrome, of kind of having everything but not, as you said, being there. (Though I think I'd enjoy Rushmore a lot more than Tenebaums.)

    I do really like Jason Schwartzman though, so I have no idea why I have not seen this yet...Film4 over here show it a lot, though, so it's bound to pop up on TV sometime soon.

    Good review!

  3. "These are my O.R. scrubs"
    "Oh are they??"

    Brilliant film, glad to see that you really dug it!

  4. Nikhat - I really connected with Max as well. I try to do lots outside school, and then I have to try and keep my grades's all too hard. It's amazing how he found time to do all of those clubs, anyway.
    Any movie with Olivia Williams has my vote, personally.

    Cherokee - I haven't seen The Royal Tenenbaums, though I probably really should. This movie felt to me like a trying to drive a car in a 50km area at 20km. It just doesn't get very far. But it's cool.
    Jason Schwartzman was awesome in this. It was hard to believe that this was his first film.

    Hatter - Hehe, this movie has so many brilliant lines! It was cool!

  5. Interesting review,
    the only Andseron I saw was the Darjeeling Limited which I didn't like much. I've never really bothered to check out the rest of his work since then, but maybe I should.

    I always find it strange to watch Schwartzman because for some reason I always think of him as "Nic Cage's cousin" and for some reason that seems weird...

    Anyway, I have barely any idea what I'm talking about there, so I'll just say Great Review, and congrats on getting two nominations at the Lammy's, great work!

  6. Anything to do with Nicolas Cage is weird. That is all I have to say.

    Though when I think of Jason Schwartzman I just think of Gideon Graves. He was awesome in that role!

    Congrats to you on getting a nom! I guess we're enemies now...jokes.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


Related Posts with Thumbnails