Rushmore (1998) – An upbeat, colorful and quirky little comedy from Wes Anderson

 

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Director Francis Ford Coppola recently said in an interview that in school, he was just like that kid in Rushmore. The kid he is referring to is Max Fischer, played by Coppola’s nephew Jason Schwartzman. Not just Coppola’s but this must have been the life story of so many filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers out there. Max is an immensely talented and perceptive kid. He is so many things but what he is not, is a bright student. He is founder and member of various clubs at his school but he is an under-performer as far his grades are concerned. This is a quirky 15-yr old kid who possess the maturity of a 25-yr old. He sometimes throws his teenage tantrums just as any normal teenager would but hey, that doesn’t make him any different from a 25-yr old because there are 25-yr olds out there who behave like 15-yr olds.

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“You’ve got to just find something you love to do,and then do it for the rest of your life”, says he, very early on in the film. For him, it’s going to Rushmore. He is not very pleased
when he is told by his Principal Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox) that he’ll be expelled if he doesn’t improve his grades. Uttering a line that is straight out of the climax of The
Godfather, Max requests Guggenheim to give him a leeway but he doesn’t. Max admires a millionaire business named Herman Blume (Bill Murray) after he makes a special speech at his school. Herman, despite being rich, is a very unhappy man and loathes his life. The reason: he is in a bad marriage and has two annoying and obnoxious little twats as sons. Herman takes a liking to Max too and thinks of him of as a sharp kid. Max’s dad works as a barber who is incredibly supportive of him even when he shows him his report card.

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Things get complicated between when a new teacher arrives. She is Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) and Max develops a crush on her. And so does Herman. Max makes several attempts to woo her but she brings up their age difference but Max shows no signs
of slowing down. Meanwhile, Herman tries to convince Max that she is not worth the trouble. Max is massively disappointed when he learns that she and Herman have started dating. The film brings to mind the John Hughes films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club, but what sets it apart from them is Wes Anderson’s unique and highly idiosyncratic style of filmmaking that looks fresh and upbeat. These are some of the most funniest and colorful characters I’ve come across in cinema.

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You can tell that Murray is Anderson’s lucky mascot given the fact that he has worked in almost every film of his. His comic talents work like a charm here. He was honored by the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for his performance in the film. Schwartzman plays Max as someone who is mildly self-centered but still a very likable character considering his politeness and intensely optimistic spirit. Anderson composed the frames in such a way that they look as if they have jumped out of some kid’s scrapbook. The highly inventive and original screenplay, interesting characters and their funny shenanigans combined with the 60s British Invasion music succeeded in putting a big smile across my face. I must have seen it 3-4 times by now and I’m sure I’ll continue to see it again and again.

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