Rushmore (1998) (R)

Wes Anderson is the quintessential hipsters' director. An indie darling whose success is surprising, Anderson's works lay right on the cusp of "main-stream"; but a large people have still not heard of his films. Take "Rushmore" for example, it's Anderson's sophomore feature film; yet it disappeared into oblivion. Anderson's more known works include "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox".
But "Rushmore" is deserving of more than a quick glance because it reflects a stance on adolescence that Anderson seems hesitant to make in his other films.
"Rushmore" is a film about adults and children and the middle ground between the two.
Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman in a breakout role) is a fifteen-year-old with a desire to do more. While he excels at extra curricular activities, his academic work is suffering. Yes, he's formed the fencing club, the drama departments, and is the VP of the stamp and coin collector's guild; but he's failing all of his subjects. Max attends his dream school, Rushmore, and it's his obsession. He enjoys the campus and throws himself into every outlet available. 
The school principal Dr. Nelson Guggenheim (Brian Cox) tells Max that he's on sudden death...if he fails one more class he will be kicked out of Rushmore. At the risk of having his hopes crushed, Max tries to devote himself to academia, but gets sidetracked by a teacher named Mrs. Cross (Olivia Williams). Max immediately becomes bewitched by the British beauty and devotes himself to winning over her heart.
First of all, I really hate teacher-student romances. They're always creepy and end up making me evil on the inside. I read a book a long time ago and I've tried to find out the name but can't—it's about a young highschool student who falls in love with his biology teacher and there's something about butterflies. She rejects him at the end, so I guess I spoiled that book if you ever find...but please let me know what it was called.
"Rushmore" somehow avoids the creepy factor of student-teacher love, mainly because Mrs. Cross is a very rational person who knows things will never work out.
Then there's Mr. Blume (Bill Murray), a rich father of twins who takes a liking to Max.
Max is mature beyond his years, he doesn't really get along with anybody and his personality is a wee bit explosive.
He is a tortured playwright in the throws of love.
Wes Anderson's style is immediately recognizable, though "Rushmore" seems like his most naturalistic piece. It's a bizarre movie that never turns the way you expect it to. The film feels like it could end three or four times, yet Anderson keeps coming back with more.
It's a delightful movie about innocence, childishness, and obsession. There has to be an emotional venting in "Rushmore" for both Mr. Blume and Max...Mr. Cross is a catalyst that brings one to adult pranks and the other to immature levels.
Max grows old and Mr. Blume grows young.
Everything is delivered in the Anderson-dry tone. Jason Schwartzman is really great as Max, it's a role that he fits into quite nicely and he would become an Anderson regular.
This movie has many influences, most prominently on Xavier Dolan's work.
It's joyous, surprisingly dark, and human.
In the end, "Rushmore" tells us that it's okay to be a kid and enjoy our younger years.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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