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Rushmore (1998)

September 8, 2009

9/10 Extracurriculars

I once heard that Ben Stiller dumped a girl because “she didn’t get Rushmore.” That’s a bit on the harsh side, but after watching this again for the first time in years, I can kinda see where Ben’s coming from.

Rushmore is essentially about an eccentric high schooler and his 40-year-old friend that both fall in love with the same woman. That’s it really. And while it’s simple enough in premise, the movie is really carried by its two main characters.

The high schooler in question is the legendary Max Fischer, played by an up-until-then unknown Jason Schwartzman, a student so devoted to Rushmore Academy and its laundry list of various clubs and sports that he founded or manages, it almost makes up for the fact that he’s the worst academic student there. Max’s older friend is Herman Blume, played by the god-like Bill Murray, a wealthy donator to Rushmore Academy who can’t stand his kids, can’t stand his marriage, and…well, he can’t stand anyone except Max really.

Now, Jason Schwartzman really hasn’t done much worth noting before or after this movie came out, but considering he’s playing opposite one of the funniest men alive, he freakin’ rocks it. And Bill Murray…well, I’ve probably already said all I can say about how good Bill Murray is. He’s Bill Murray. You get the point.

It’s weird. Reading back the synopsis I just wrote, it occurrs to me that it’s kind of hard to do this movie justice without seeing it for yourself. Then again, it’s kind of hard to describe what makes Wes Anderson’s movies so unique from works of other directors without seeing them for yourself. Visually, yeah, they’re pretty hard to describe, but, for the most part, you can’t take your eyes of them and they are fuckin’ slick. The story here is pretty solid, but what really sells it is Anderson’s writing style, along with co-author Owen Wilson. It’s just really quirky, relatable, filled to the brim with choice one-liners, and riddled with absolutely hilarious shit that you don’t come across all that often any more.

The soundtrack is also freakin’ awesome. It’s not often I come across movies that are scored to Cat Stevens, The Kinks, The Who, and John Lennon among others. It also helps that the songs all fit beautifully into the look and feel of the movie, but then again, hard to go wrong with that track list to begin with. Always great to find a director with good taste in music. 

Seeing this again, it was great to be reminded of how good Wes Anderson really is. This is nearly two hours of really funny, really well-written stuff that I haven’t seen the like of since The Royal Tenenbaums. I’d be surprised if Fantastic Mr. Fox is going to be a return to form for him, but after forcing myself to sit through The Darjeeling Limited not long ago and trying to convince myself that The Life Aquatic wasn’t all that disappointing when it first came out, this movie just makes me shake my head and think, “Wes. Where’d you go, man?” Either way, he’s still pretty kickass and Rushmore is evidence that the guy has the potential to make great movies that are very much his own.

So if you’re into seriously deadpan, quotable humor, you can’t go wrong with Rushmore. A great movie that I almost forgot about.

Please come back to us, Wes. We miss you.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 8, 2009 7:52 pm

    Bill Murray does an incredible job in this film, and without him it would’ve not been the same film. Wes Anderson is mostly known for Royal Tenenbaums, which is one of my favorites as well, but this was his movie that was before he became huge, and is a very good jem that isn’t his best work, but is actually one of his funniest.

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