Sunday, October 14, 2012

#790. Rushmore (1998)

Directed By: Wes Anderson

Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams

Tag line: "Love. Expulsion. Revolution"

Trivia: Bill Murray's character wears the same suit throughout the entire film. He just changes his shirt and tie, which are always the same color as each other

Director Wes Anderson's films feel as if they take place in some sort of alternate reality, a world that looks very much like our own, yet is populated by bizarre, curiously interesting characters. His 1998 picture, Rushmore, is an early example of the quirky style he would perfect over the course of his career. 

It's also a very funny movie.

Tenth grader Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is the most enthusiastic student at Rushmore Academy, and takes part in dozens of the private school’s extracurricular activities, everything from amateur theatrics to beekeeping. 

Unfortunately, Max is also Rushmore’s worst pupil, and is failing all of his courses. 

He doesn’t have many friends, but does manage to make a good impression on Herman Blume (Bill Murray), a Rushmore alumnus and self-made millionaire who is almost as much a social outcast as Max. 

One day, Max finds a hand-written quote jotted down in a library book, and his search for the person who wrote it leads him to Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), a young widow who teaches 1st grade at Rushmore. Max instantly falls in love with Ms. Cross, and does everything he can to impress her, including a stunt that ultimately gets him expelled. 

Things go from bad to worse for our hero when he learns Ms. Cross has been secretly dating his mentor and close friend, Herman Blume, kicking off a war between the two former pals that will undoubtedly end very badly.

Over the course of Rushmore, we watch as the film’s two main characters become first the closest of friends, and, as events unfold, the worst of enemies. My favorite scene occurs just after Max discovers the romance between Ms. Cross and the married Mr. Blume. Looking to hurt his ex-pal, Max informs Blume’s wife (Kim Terry) of her husband’s infidelity. When Blume is thrown out of his house as a result, he checks into a fancy hotel suite, only to be attacked the next morning by a swarm of angry bees (released into the room by Max, who, as mentioned above, has some experience as a beekeeper). Set to the tune of The Who’s A Quick One While He’s Away, we’re then treated to a montage of revenge, with each character trying to out-do the other, culminating with Blume having Max arrested for tampering with the brakes on his car. It’s a funny sequence, but with a hint of sadness running underneath it as we watch two very lonely people take their frustrations out on each other.

For me, Wes Anderson’s masterpiece is 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums, which took his odd view of the world and spun it into an amusing, heartwarming tale of a family that’s fallen on hard times. 

If I had to pick a 2nd favorite from his impressive filmography, it would be Rushmore, a movie chock full of humor and pathos, with a keen sense of its own warped reality.

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