[box cover]


The Criterion Collection

Starring Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Olivia Williams

Written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
Directed by Wes Anderson

Back to Review Index

Back to Quick Reviews

At the young age of 15, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) has made quite a name for himself at Rushmore Academy. He is president of the school's French, calligraphy, and beekeepers clubs, captain of the debate and fencing teams, and founder of the astronomy, and trap and skeet shooting clubs. Max Fischer is an ideal student, except that his grades suck. He spends perhaps too much time directing the Max Fischer Players in his stage adaptation of "Serpico." Put on Sudden Death academic probation by Rushmore's short-fused headmaster Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox), the last thing Max needs is another distraction.

That's when he falls naively in love with widowed first grade teacher Ms. Cross (Olivia Williams). His adolescent crush on the young and pretty, yet solemn, woman brings out the best and worst of Max's vaulting ambitions and total commitment to a cause. His premature maturity is exposed as a frightened affectation when she turns him away in favor of his new friend, self-loathing millionaire Herman Blume (Bill Murray).

Rushmore is an incredible comedy, not only for its fresh comic vision, but for its very real and moving realities hiding beneath its humorous hyperbole.

On the surface, Max is simply another in a long line of cinema's precocious teens caught the tumult of coming-of-age, but rarely are these characters given so much style, creativity, or complexity. Max represents the frustrating paradox of the teenage male: he is at once eagerly involved in his world and yet a total outsider. Max is an outcast pretending to be a messiah, a one-man cultural revolution with no followers, immune to introspection.

Rushmore re-invents adolescent angst so wondrously and hilariously that it puts all other teen comedies to instant shame. Max's gung-ho spirit exposes Ferris Bueller as an empty fraud, and his dark confrontation of conflict makes Bueller look like a pussy.

One of the great delights of Rushmore is Bill Murray's performance as Max's friend and nemesis Herman Blume. Blume's adult life is sham — his marriage is loveless, his children are cretins, and his self-made millions only succeed in spoiling them. While Max assumes a maturity beyond his years, Blume regresses to childlike antics. In their wild swing away from themselves, the two meet beautifully on common ground. Murray is simply brilliant in this persona, always at his funniest wrapped in sadness.

This is director Wes Anderson's second film. His first, 1995's Bottle Rocket similarly turned upside-down, ripped apart, and rejuvenated the very tired, trendy genre of ironic, quirky heist films. He and co-writer Owen Wilson (who also starred in Bottle Rocket as the unforgettable Dignan, and has since gone on to feature prominently in films like Armageddon) have conquered their terrain so far like inspired visionaries.

Despite its brief 93 minutes, Rushmore feels like a grand epic. It covers more territory — more gracefully — than most films manage in a full two hours, with some wild, yet perfect, shifts in tone, and dynamic characters given the credit for taking a full, exhausting journey.

Films like this — so pure, unique, and unpredictable — are a wonderful thing to behold.

Also with Seymour Cassel as Max's father, Mason Gamble as Max's sidekick Dirk, and Luke Wilson, and one of the best soundtracks in recent memory mixing obscure oldies with a memorable score by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh.

Criterion's DVD edition of Rushmore features an excellent anamorphic widescreen transfer; a commentary by Anderson, Wilson and, Schwartzman; "The Making of Rushmore" documentary; Anderson's storyboards and a storyboard-to-film comparison; audition footage with Schwartzman and others; an appearance on "The Charlie Rose Show" by Anderson and Murray; excerpts from the 1999 MTV Movie Awards; and numerous other supplements.

— Gregory P. Dorr

(Editor's note: Rushmore is also available in a movie-only edition from Buena Vista at a lower price.)

Get it at Reel.com

Back to Review Index

Back to Quick Reviews

Back to Main Page

© 2000, The DVD Journal