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RUSHMORE is the story of a gifted, rebellious teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a 10th grader at elite Rushmore Academy. Editor of the school newspaper, captain or president of innumerable clubs and societies, Max is also one of the worst students in the school, and the threat of expulsion hangs permanently over his head. Max's world is rocked when he falls for elegant 1st grade teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams) and he plans to erect an aquarium in her honor -- then finds himself competing for her affections with his friend, steel tycoon Mr. Blume (Bill Murray), the wealthy father of two of his classmates.

Wes Anderson's follow-up to the quirky Bottle Rocket is a wonderfully unorthodox coming-of-age story that ranks with Harold and Maude and The Graduate in the pantheon of timeless cult classics. Jason Schwartzman (son of Talia Shire and nephew of Francis Coppola) stars as Max Fischer, a 15-year-old attending the prestigious Rushmore Academy on scholarship, where he's failing all of his classes but is the superstar of the school's extracurricular activities (head of the drama club, the beekeeper club, the fencing club...). Possessing boundless confidence and chutzpah, as well as an aura of authority he seems to have been born with, Max finds two unlikely soulmates in his permutations at Rushmore: industrial magnate and Rushmore alumnus Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and first-grade teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). His alliance with Blume and crush on Miss Cross, however, are thrown out of kilter by his expulsion from Rushmore, and a budding romance between the two adults that threatens Max's own designs on the lovely schoolteacher.

Never stooping to sentimentality or schmaltz, Anderson and cowriter Owen Wilson have fashioned a wickedly intelligent and wildly funny tale of young adulthood that hits all the right notes in its mix of melancholy and optimism. As played by Schwartzman, Max is both immediately endearing and ferociously irritating: smarter than all the adults around him, with little sense of his shortcomings, he's an unstoppable dynamo who commands grudging respect despite his outlandish projects (including a school play about Vietnam). Murray, as the tycoon who determinedly wages war with Max for the affections of Miss Cross, is a revelation of middle-aged resignation. Disgusted with his family, his life, and himself, he's turned around by both Max's antagonism and Miss Cross's love. Williams is equally affecting as the teacher who still carries a torch for her dead husband, and the superb supporting cast also includes Seymour Cassel as Max's barber father, Brian Cox as the frustrated headmaster of Rushmore, and a hilarious Mason Gamble as Max's young charge. Put this one on your shelf of modern masterpieces. --Mark Englehart

Customer Reviews:

  • This is my Rushmore
    One of my favorite movies, after i saw this movie I insistly became a fan of Wes Anderson. Altough his other movies never came close to this one he is great at making dry humor movies....more info
  • Great Movie
    I am a little surprised that so many other people failed to see the merits of this movie. First, this was not a typical predictable Hollywood movie with a predictable ending. Second, it was not a re-hash of some old story line with the same old actors. It is a very well written comedic coming of age movie. Few movies take the time or effort to develop complex, flawed and genuine characters, but director Wes Anderson apparently understands the value of doing so. The emotionally stagnating business tycoon Herman Blume is played brilliantly by Bill Murray - the disappointment he feels with his banal life and idiotic children is wrenchingly palpable. But Rushmore Academy student and quirky prodigy Max Fischer enters Herman Blume's dull life, renewing his enthusiam. The movie is both thought provoking and hilarious. Particularly enjoyable are Max's adaptations of "Serpico" and "Platoon" for the high-school drama club. Hands down this was the best comedy produced in the 90's. With the decade that produced MTV sex and bathroom joke frat boy movies, this film offers an intelligent script, cast of characters, and an excellent soundtrack....more info
  • Perfection
    The life of Max Fischer is less about an individual's "coming of age" than an echo of the expulsion from the Garden and the plight to find meaning and redemption in a reality that slaps you in the face. I've never seen a more perfect film and don't expect to. I dare you to try to ever tire of its charms. There is only one way to own such treasure -- the Criterion Collection DVD....more info
  • One of the Best Movies I've Seen in a Long Time
    After seeing Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" (I hated it) I had no desire to see another one of his films. But, this film had gotten some great reviews and I read an interview with Vincent Gallo where he was complaining about it for some reason I don't remember, so I decided to check it out. The other big factor for me was, I'm not a big fan of The Criterion Collection. I've seen a lot of movies in that collection I hated, but this is one of the best I've seen. This is actually one of the best, most charming, and funny movies I've seen in a long time. The writing is smart and witty, the dialogue is charming, the performances are great. Jason Schwartzman ('Spun' & 'Shopgirl') plays Max Fischer, a tenth grader at a private school called Rushmore. While he's one of the smartest kids at the school, he's their worst student. But he is involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, in fact he's the founder or president of most of them. After discovering a quote that he's fond of in a book, he tracks down the person who wrote the quote who happens to be a teacher at the school. Her name is Miss Cross (Olivia Williams, who is really hot), and Max quickly falls in love with her. Problem is, his friend Mr. Blume (Bill Murray, in one of his best performances) also is in love with Miss Cross. When Max discovers this, he wages war against Blume. In case you hadn't noticed, it's a pretty quirky movie. Jason Schwartzman shows here that he's a very good actor; I've now seen him play Max Fischer, a drug addict, and a lazy womanizer and he's shown a great amount of range in all these roles. He's very believable here. Murray delivers an Oscar worthy performance, he's truly wonderful to watch. And Williams is not only a fine actress, but she's also...Fine. I was surprised to find out that Owen Wilson (who is not in the film, but his brother Luke Wilson is) co-wrote this movie. I knew Wilson was a funny guy, but damn...He's a good writer too. This is a really great movie and if you haven't seen it, then you need too.

    GRADE: A
    ...more info
  • An American original
    "Rushmore" is one of the most original American films I've ever seen. That does not necessarily make it among the best or most memorable I've ever seen (it isn't) but it is clearly one of the most original and mold-breaking excursions in comedy.

    Jason Schwartzman -- Talia Shire's son -- played the lead in this 1998 dramedy as Max Fischer, a 15-year-old attending the prestigious Rushmore Academy in Houston. Max is everything -- head of the fencing team, the beekeepers, most other oddball clubs -- except a very good student. This becomes his downfall and, finally, his salvation.

    There's not much point in describing what goes on in the movie, its script, or its other actors (including Bill Murray in one of those roles that defined him in middle age before his breakout in "Lost In Transition") other than to say this film merges elements of romance, teen hijinks, class warfare and derision into a stew that almost no one will be able to resist.

    There is something you've never seen in a film before happening in almost every scene. While the ending is perfectly predicatable and acceptable, you'll enjoy yourself a great deal getting from the opening credits to there. It will be 90 minutes of enjoyment the likes of which you won't repeat too soon. Rent, borrow or buy "Rushmore" today and be prepared to exhibit an American original....more info
  • a truly original film
    This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

    In this movie, 10th grader Max Fischer falls in love with the widowed 1st grade teacher at his school. Max is the undisputed king of extrcurricular activites at his school. His grades have plummeted as a result and is in danger of expulsion. He later becomes the prot¨¦g¨¦e of Herman Blume, the father of twin brother students at his school. His new mentor then falls in love with the teacher and in an act of revenge, Max exposes the affair to Herman's wife.

    The DVD has excellent special features.
    There is audio commentary by the writers of the film and actor Jason Schwartzmann who plays Max in the film, a "making of Rushmore" press film, short theatrical adaptations films released at the time Rushmore was which aired on the MTV movie awards, screen tests and audtions of the child actors and actress in the film, Chrlie Rose Show interview with actor Bill Murray and Director/co-writer Wes Anderson, and drawn storyboards with film comparison and, several pictures of props, drawings and other items from the film. There is also a foldout map showing key events in the film....more info

  • Mag(nificent) Max
    With all the drek that video stores carry, it's amazing that I had to join an online rental service to see "Rushmore", the best comedy, and one of the most entertaining movies I've seen this decade. "Rushmore" has every aspect of a great movie--script (by director Wes Anderson and writer/actor Owen Wilson), casting (Jason Schwartzman got the starring part as Max Fischer after a long search; Bill Murray is perfect as Herman Blume, and Brit Olivia Williams is lovely as Miss Cross--I'm not sure why she hasn't gotten other good parts; even the minor characters are very well cast), direction (by Anderson--highlighted by the montage of Max's extracurricular activities at the title private school Rushmore), acting (see Schartzman, Murray and others), soundtrack (somehow '60s British invasion works perfectly for this tale from the '90s--The Faces "Ooh La La" topping everything), and a happy, but still satisfying ending. And on top of that, there are plenty of very funny lines and the delight of seeing both "Serpico" and "Platoon" produced for the high school stage. Max Fischer is one of the best young characters created for a movie, and the rest of the great cast and production work beautifully around him. Very highly recommended!
    ...more info
  • A Most Perfect Comedy
    Director Wes Anderson crafts an excellent exploration in the gamut of emotions, with a cast that captures the essence of each moment, with an emphasis on stage presence.

    Each of the featured characters is scarred by one or more of the following: loss, lies and love. The juxtaposition throughout of how it affects the individual and the situation with others involved is subtle, yet vital.

    Jason Schwartzman is the rebellious teen, Max Fischer, whose life is structured around his extra-curricular responsibilities at Rushmore Academy. But he is teetering on expulsion due to poor grades, though he has a gift in playwriting and bringing people into his real-life drama.

    Bill Murray (school booster, Mr. Blume) and Olivia Williams (first grade teacher, Miss Cross), respectively, capture the hard work of a man who has built great wealth - in the steel industry - but has not forgotten where he came from and the young, overqualified teacher who has special, altruistic reasons to enter the field.

    With each scene building upon each other, there is not a wasted moment in the 93 minutes, with the climax being a rich and fitting means for the cast to take a bow.

    A soundtrack which highlights the sounds from the British Invasion adds a timeless, pop culture quality to this most perfect comedy.

    ...more info
  • One of my favorite films
    Hilarious, in a dry subtle way. Improves on multiple viewings. ...more info
  • A Little Perspective
    I find the reviews of this movie to be just a little polemical, and , frankly, ridiculous. First of all, you cannot criticize other people's taste because you did or did not think this movie was funny. If you did not think it was funny, okay, but don't call everybody else snobs because they think it is. Nobody called you dumb, yet you are so quick to call other people stuck up. Sounds like insecurity to me, like maybe the movie just confused you and you feel bad, so you take it out on others. Also, people aren't stupid if they don't laugh at the film. They just have a different sense of humor. But, if you only laughed one time in the whole movie and then say, like one reviewer did, that you "knew everywhere this film was going", well, I would like to see you prove that. It sound like a cop out for not getting the film. You don't have to laugh, but again, don't criticize others who did laugh.

    Secondly, just to clarify, THE HUMOR IN THIS FILM IS NOT SUBTLE. That is such a typical statement about the film, and it drives me crazy. The humor is RIGHT THERE, on the surface, and you don't have to be some brain to get it. It is simply different than the mainstream. Don't sit there and say it's subtle so you can feel better about yourself for liking it. The film's humor is very noticeable, not rocket science.

    The parts of the film that are subtle are the social observations about class and what have you. In fact, the humor and unique logic of the film kind of block it from view. If you view the film as a kind of fairy tale allegory, it makes more sense.

    Well, I think the film is a masterpiece, far superior to Anderson's other films, which are good, but not up to the level of this movie. It is much more than just a coming of age story, which is all anyone ever seems to say about it here. But, again, humor is subjective, and you cannot criticize people for stating a frickin' preference, for God's sake. ...more info
  • a perfect movie
    This is what a movie should be.

    First, it is clearly a work of art. The premise of what is was about sounds boring but a movie is a product of its creator not the subject matter. The director brought this to life.

    Secondly, the actors were great. Bill Murray created a character that was complex, pathetic yet also at times likeable. He is a steel magnate that is impressed with Max and then competes with him over a girl. The concept of a man ignoring his big business and pre-occupied with the little things in life is charming.

    The Max Fisher character is a brilliant original. A fifteen year old that is charming, devious, manipulative of the world and at times downright scary and evil. The supporting characters are also great and all are very quirky.

    Lastly, the Brittish wave soundtrack enhances the story.

    This is a very hip, smart and innovative film. This movie has been imitated in style but , at the time, the deadpan sense of humor and we, the makers of the movie are smarter and cooler than you attitude, was very fresh.

    It is a lesson to makers and patrons of the can do so much with so little....more info
  • Long, but quirky & funny
    This is really a funny and at times touching film. It's a bit overlong, but Bill Murray and the other actors are great. I really liked this movie. Definately not for those that don't like to think....more info
  • Shallow characters, senseless plot, and overbearing props!
    What can I say, this film is a great litmus test to see if people really understand the mechanics of making a film. This most fragmented, pretentious, superficial treatment of adolescence; its witty one-liners and costume design an attempt to hide a pathetically shallow, totally unengaging film. The last shot is an embarassment, when we see all of the non-entities of the film in a "tableaux vivant." Wes Anderson should be a window dresser at Bergdorf Goodman -- he certainly has an eye for set decoration (which has nothing to do with the story and in fact detracts from the drama)....more info
  • Rushmore
    Another favorite by Wes Anderson. Mr. Anderson writes a great story and hires the right actors to make it work perfectly. This movie is the only one without Owen Wilson....more info
  • My Experience with Rushmore
    Rushmore is a great film and ultimately one of the best examples of Indie Auteur Wes Anderson's work. This copy of the DVD is a great value for the $10 but isn't really enough for the true fan which I suggest the Criterion Edition.

    The film is a great coming-of-age story as any of the other reviewers will tell you. Some of the other reviewers report Anderson defining the rules of film making which is highly debatable, as I haven't seen anything that strikes me as vividly as films by other film makers like Jim Jarmusch. This film is Anderson's first break out and perhaps his most original and interesting as if you've seen this one you'll easily recognize the style and humor in the rest of his films as he does not deviate much from his success but I do feel this film is important in the cannon of American independent film.

    The performance by Bill Murray is my favorite, other viewers report this showing his largest range of emotion but I find it sticks to sarcastic quips and subtle humor but doesn't develop as much as his later films. This was his first real turn to the actor we see him as today lining him up for Broken Flowers, Lost in Translation and Life Aquatic. I do love his role and think he holds some amazing lines in the film. Jason Schwartzman is great and seeing him early in his career gives the audience a chance to see his development into the actor he's now known as.

    The film itself is a comedy about a 15 year old in prep school, based largely on Anderson's experience with prep school himself which brings a personal touch to the film that helps develop the lead into a believable character. The humor as others have mentioned is sarcastic and subtle but the soundtrack brit-invasion as Anderson is known for and the movie is worth seeing especially at the $10 value. I feel the film gets a little more credit than it deserves but in all is a good watch....more info
  • Wes Anderson rocks
    This is such a smart, funny, thoughtful film. Jason Schwartzman's Max is character for the ages, the spirit of what can be, Bill Murray delivers, the story is well written, the soundtrack is great, if you like good films, check this out, as well as Royal Tennenbaums....more info
  • A test of taste
    If you don't love this movie either you are too young or too stupid to recognize the talent of Wes Anderson. ...more info
  • The Paths of Glory Lead But to the Grave
    I am the author of
    Striking It Rich: Golf in the Kingdom with Generals, Patients and Pros

    Such is the epitaph on the tombstome of Max's deceased mother, Eloise. It serves as his mantra as well which he repeats in Latin ("sic transit gloria") both in life and in his final play about the Vietnam War.
    Max lives for the moment because he has found where he wants to be for the rest of his life- at Rushmore- hopefully making lots of babies with Miss Cross. This is why he doesn't bother to study or do his homework (Derk: " What about the essay on the Berlin Airlift?" Max: "Oh right... I got an extension").
    There is a problem with all of this scheming of course. Its called reality. Max lives in a dream world, solving geometry problems in his imagination that stumped the best mathmaticians in the world yet he can't pass a high school geometry class. Reality: its a b.tch isn't it? But Max manages to survive because he is a lover of life and a gifted manipulator with a heart for inclusion. It isn't until a chance follow-up reunionwith Margaret Yang (who is half reality-half fantasy) that he sees a workable balance (Max: "I heard on Action 13 that the Navy was going to buy your science project." Margaret: "Not any more. It was a fake. I thought it would work but it didn't so I faked the results. Anyway it was nice seeing you." ) Ah. music to Max's ear and the look in Jason Schwartzman's eye said "love". He had met his soul mate.
    I know some reviewers didn't like this movie and I respect their opinions but I thought it was brilliant in almost every way. I loved the look of the film. Anderson matched the colors perfectly and used a film stock that made the blacks richer, the whites ashen and the reds velvety- a gorgeous film. The script was superb with some very funny lines. (Miss Cross:.."but my thesis was on Latin American economiuc policy."Max: "Did you hear they're going to cancel Latin?")And of course the O.R. scrubs line. I have only one problem with the script; the scene where Max snitched on Mr. Blume to his wife (about Blume's affair with Miss Cross).... This was out of character for Max (even though bringing refreshments was a nice character-defining touch) and I suspect Wes Anderson was uncomfortable with this. Could that be why he drowned out Max's words with the background noise? I bet he shot it straight and later decided to drown it out.
    This film was very interesting for me to study as I prepare to shoot the movie version of my book: "Striking It Rich: Golf in the Kingdom with Generals Patients and Pros". Thank you Wes Anderson. ...more info
  • requires a certain type of humor to appreciate it
    The owner of the video store warned us about this movie - it only appeals to a certain segment of the population, he told us. He was right. Among the audience I watched it with, half loved it and half hated it. I didn't appreciate the movie's humor because I thought it failed to develop a minimal level of empathy for the characters. As a result, I couldn't convince myself to care much as they moved from debacle to debacle. Not very entertaining in my opinion, but it seems to appeal to some, especially those that sympathize with oddball characters....more info
  • Rushmore
    In plain english, the development of Max Fischer (played by Jason Schwartzman) from beginning to end of the movie is powerful. Also, the soundtrack to this movie kicks ass. If you like classic rock and the British Invasion, you will like the sounds of this movie. All in all, this movie provides something that most films of today severely lack: a funny emotional storyline that provides the viewer pleasure from a rich collection of sounds, acting, and directing that doesn't resort to cheap tricks and cheesy pranks attempting to artificially inseminate comedy into an otherwise sterile film....more info
  • Doesn't break through to you when you see it, but later...
    "Rushmore" was recommended to me by people whose taste in movies I generally admired. But when I saw "Rushmore" I was a little dissappointed. The humor is never funny enough to laugh out loud and sometimes not even funny at all. The part of of Bill Murray was fine, like in 'Groundhog Day' or 'Lost in Translation' but not special. Only good thing then was the sound track.

    But sometimes you have some of those movies that make you think and this was one of them. The more I had to think about it the better the story got, the better Jason Schartzman got and the more brilliant Bill Murray became. All of a sudden I started laughing about things I hadn't thought of before!

    The movie is great, the main character both charming and sad at the same time. He is sometimes vicious, not complete worldwise but warms up in the end. His friendship, then fight, than friendship with Murray is hilarious. Every teen will see something of himself back in Schartzman.

    Great cult classic, get the soundtrack too!...more info
  • It keeps you interested.
    Once you get started, you just have to watch. This movie and these characters are completely engaging....more info
  • Rushmore
    When I began to watch "Rushmore," I had no idea where it was headed. There seemed to be no direction of the story and I was ready to be bored for an hour or two. I was close to even turning it off. In the end, I realized that would have been a huge mistake, because I would have missed out on a great, little film.

    Max Fischer (Jason Schwarzman) is in love with the school at which he attends: Rushmore Academy. He's the president of chess club, German club, and French club, as well as the founder of the dodgeball society, the Max Fischer players, and tons more. He's also the worst student at the school. As it begins to look gloomy for Max, things begin to brighten up when he falls for a first-grade teacher, Miss Cross (Olivia Williams). Unfortunately, Max isn't the only one who has his eye on the teacher. Mr. Blume (Bill Murray) falls for her as well. The two duke it out for Miss Cross' feelings as Max juggles with love, friendships, school, and a play about the Vietnam War.

    I always thought of director Wes Anderson as a filmmaker you either love or hate. Not to say that I despise him or his films, but I just never really "got" them. I fell asleep during "The Life Aquatic" and although I liked "The Royal Tenenbaums", I wasn't thrilled or engaged by it. "Rushmore" works the best for me, mainly because of how focused it is. It's the observation of one character unlike say "The Royal Tenenbaums." Since this is the case, I have a better time trying to understand what the certain character is doing and why, instead of having to switch back and forth between many characters.

    Jason Schwartzman is Max Fischer. Determined, caring, awkward, obsessed, and upset, Schwartzman does it all. Bill Murray is great as Max's enemy. The dialogue between the two is well done and never feels forced. Their dream girl is played beautifully by Olivia Williams, who does a remarkable job. The rest of the cast do fine as well.

    Wes Anderson moves the story along at a fairly slow pace, which actually benefits the story. I particulary enjoyed the off-kilter editing that he employs throughout the film. I found it to be a nice parallel with Max's mindset in every situation that he is in.

    Overall, "Rushmore" is a good film. As I said before, Wes Anderson is a director that you can either take or leave. If you enjoy his films, you'll certainly enjoy this. Even if you're not though, it's still worth checking out. It may move at a slow, deliberate pace, but it's got a great story to tell, filled to the brim with great characters and some solid direction. ...more info
  • Good for a rainy day
    Max Fischer( Jason Schwartzman) is the most industious 10th grader of all time. He has founded seemingly every club at Rushmore, a prestigious private school, where he has a full scholarship. The only problem: Max is a horrible student and is failing most of his classes. Add to the mix a pretty kindergarten teacher (Olivia Williams) that Max and one of his teachers (Bill Murray) fall in love with, and you have all the twists and turns of a high school soap opera.

    I was not impressed with the ending, but at least it was realistic. Most teenagers would enjoy the goofy humor, but parents may be wary. Not a bad movie for a rainy day.

    ...more info
  • Disappointed.
    I looked forward to viewing this DVD. I had heard good reports of it. It was not engaging on any entertainment level. Viewing seemed interminable. Why continue to watch? you ask. In case at some point it might turn out to be funny or interesting. And it did have Bill Murray in it. A waste....more info
  • Over-rated and over-long...
    Is this really a 93 mintue movie, as the description above states? It seemed about twice that long. Desperately in need of a qualified editor; it seemed to end at least 3 times before it actually ended. Remind why I'm supposed to care about any of these immature, obnoxious people...? I guess that explains its following ("takes one to know one", etc.)... ...more info
  • Semiotic Analysis of Rushmore
    "Rushmore" serves as an interesting reference for semiotic analysis because its director, Wes Anderson, is a unique auteur. He understands paradigmatic choices and commands them with a satirical tone characteristic in his films. When performing this semiotic analysis, it helps to keep in mind the film's target audience as a point of reference. This film is probably intended for an American audience of almost all ages however I think younger audiences, who have recently been through high school, could relate to the film in particular. Even further, this movie could be considered only for the growing cult of loyal Wes Anderson fans who follow his distinctive brand of film. For practical purposes of this essay, we will only examine the introductory scene from the movie paradigmatically and then look at some of its oppositions.
    Anderson wastes no time establishing the quirky and mildly uplifting mood found throughout the movie. As the Touchstone Pictures logo moves on screen, we hear the jubilant plucking of a mandolin and are delighted because we expect this to be a lighthearted "fun" movie. Anderson's introduction is dissimilar from most other big budget movies in that it does not begin with a lengthy montage of credits; a strategy intended to set him apart from the Hollywood norm much in the way an oil painter seeks his/her avant-garde style.

    Painting of the Blumes
    The first shot fades in to a family portrait on an easel to the left of the screen with a red curtain closed in the background. "Touchstone Pictures presents" appears on the right in Anderson's trademark bold Futura font. It is important to note that like his other paradigmatic choices, Anderson's consistent selection of Futura font found in all his films is deeply personal and may not be fully understood by the audience. A set of curtains open to reveal the Rushmore plaque on a gate just outside the campus.
    This shot comprises an array of unusually crafted paradigmatic choices. Denotatively, the fact that the portrait is painted suggests that the family depicted is part of an elite upper class. Many families in America have their family portrait hanging in the living room but they are usually photographed because it is a significantly cheaper. An original painting suggests the high importance and appreciation of art that many upper class families boast. In the painting, everyone appears to be happy and normal except the father figure, Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who is not standing next to his wife; instead he sits in the foreground with the look of pain on his face and a cigarette drooping off the corner of his mouth. Obviously this man has problems. The two adolescent twins are wearing the exact same outfit with the exact same haircut. Therefore, we can assume their interests and personalities are similar as well. Their clothes are part of a private school uniform; another indication of the family's wealth. Anderson consistently exploits the ambiguous relationship between the signifier and the signified to draw humor. Many of his paradigmatic choices seem random and cannot be explained logically. For example, the drab green sheet in the painting's background is subtly humorous because of its hideous color and presence. Indeed, it is noticeable but its presence cannot be fully explained. Even the quality of the painting itself is an odd paradigmatic choice. The colors are basic and the faces look almost cartoon-like; the entire painting hints the unrefined work of an art student in training. Why would a wealthy man, who could afford to commission the best artist money can buy, hire someone with sub par skills? What family would find it acceptable for the father to pose by himself in the foreground with a frown on his face for a family portrait? These are the kind odd paradigmatic choices Anderson uses to dance on the fence between realistic life and satirical exaggeration. It is also important to note the choice to include an opening curtain. Anderson reminds us that we are watching a completely fictitious play on screen; a fantasy world completely separate from our own. The curtain serves as an intermediary in this transition.

    Max's Dream
    A student asks about an extra credit problem on a forgotten chalkboard in the classroom and the teacher explains that it is "just a joke" geometry problem even his mentor from MIT cannot solve. The students whisper about this amongst themselves and the name "Max Fisher" surfaces a few times. Max Fisher is called on, who is busy reading the Wall Street Journal, but causally gets out of his desk to work out the problem. He fills most of the chalkboard with his mathematical steps written neatly in calligraphy and finally arrives with an answer. The teacher nods in approval and the whole class cheers for him. Max then wakes up from his dream.
    The film's protagonist, Max Fisher, is introduced in a dream sequence taking place in a Geometry class at Rushmore. Connotatively, I can immediately identify with the algebraic symbols and graphs on the chalkboard from when I took Geometry in high school. Even the crusty white writing of chalk on a blackboard alone can conjure an array of memories from an academic environment. The boxed off list of homework assignments on the top right corner of the chalkboard, random colored papers posted on the wall, and black board eraser smudges are hardly noticed in this scene, however they all serve as an effective sign system which provide the realistic detail authenticating Anderson's work. The teacher dresses conservatively in a beige V-neck sweater vest and a dry, monotone speech pattern to match. We can stereotype his dull persona as the result of a lifelong dedication to advanced mathematics. By this time, the audience is aware that Rushmore is an elite private high school but may find it hard to identify with the setting since the majority of people go to public schools. We expect Rushmore to be filled with the best teachers, a nurturing administration, and endless opportunity. This is evident when Max gets expelled from Rushmore because of his bad grades and forced into the public school system. His former club activities such as fencing are no longer embraced by the public school community and he is not allowed to use the public phone without a hall pass.
    Max's dream sequence elicits the following main oppositions:
    Student vs. Teacher
    Student vs. Students
    Public vs. Private School
    The Intelligent vs. The Average

    In his dream, Max is idealizing that he is the exact opposite of what he is. The teacher and students respect him for his academic prowess but in reality, he is "one of the worse student's we've got," according to the president of Rushmore in a later scene. When Herman Blume asks his twin sons if they invited Max to their birthday party and they respond in disgust: "Max Fisher? Common Dad there's gonna be girls there. I'd rather die." With Max's odd fashion sense, neatly parted hair, thick framed glasses, and braces, he is denotatively the stereotypical nerdy kid in school. Connotatively, his character traits eventually unfold to reveal his enthusiasm for extra-curricular activities, great organization skills, and finally his compassion for others. Max's nonconformity with the "average kids" in school and his poor academic infamy with the school's administrators allow him to surprise viewers with his ambitious club endeavors such as directing a hit play about the Vietnam War complete with real dynamite pyrotechnics. The audience is willing to accept this precocious behavior from a student attending a private school which presumably admits only the most gifted applicants. We recognize that school uniforms are commonly worn at private schools and are intended to maintain a presentable student and encourage equality. However, many kids do not adhere to conformity by individualizing their uniform; they can take off their jacket, roll their sleeves up, and untuck their shirt if they want to. Max, on the other hand, breaks this trend by wearing his complete Rushmore school uniform while the other students prefer the relaxed look of the light blue collar shirt. This stark difference is accentuated further when Max stands to clap for the Herman Blume's chapel speech in the next scene. Max's dark navy blue blazer is unmistakable amongst the sea of light blue shirts in the congregation; an obvious statement that he is the black sheep.
    In conclusion, Anderson's unique brand of paradigmatic choices in "Rushmore" allows for an interesting semiotic analysis because they are not always produce a relevant meaning. Although he follows many of the same semiotic strategies to convey meaning as other directors, Anderson plays with the non-existential relationship between the signifier and signified in his paradigmatic choices to provoke confusion and humor. He is a quiet reminder that film is an art form and not a science of optimizing commercial success. For the true auteur, there are no rules....more info
  • Coming of Age, and All of its Pain and Glory
    Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson wrote and created a film that is profoundly rich in its portrayal of multifaceted characters, three lonely and wounded people. I have seen many coming of age films, from comedies to dramas, from "Welcome to the Dollhouse" to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". "Rushmore" is one of my favorites, a total standout with its own unique flavor and style. It is at times dark, quirky, funny, joyful, heartbreaking, and triumphant.

    I can't imagine this film without Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. They are both so good here. You can't help liking them, loathing them, pitying them, laughing at them, cheering for them, and hoping for them to find some thread of happiness. They start out friends, then enemies, then friends again but stronger. This film really is about friendships.

    Max Fischer is easily one of the most fascinating and interesting characters I have encountered in the movies. He is a creative dynamo and yet he is flawed and vulnerable. Max is (pardon all the adjectives) witty, cruel, clever, resilient, funny, dangerous, foolish, brilliant, lonely, formidable, and damaged. This is not a character you've seen before in a film.

    I was particularly impressed with one friendship in "Rushmore", which was that of Dirk and Max. I felt their history together; you just know they've been buddies for a long time, and have had many schemes and fun times... and when there was a big rift between them, I actually was hoping that their bond would not be broken permanently.

    When it comes down to it, this is (for me) a love story about a young man and the time of his life. Rushmore is more than a school to Max, it is a time. I remember that time in my life, and I think that the fact that it has to end or change is rather sad and unfair (but inevitable). It's a heady time with so many things going on: changes, self image issues, first loves, learning, socializing, making mistakes, friendship, creating, failing, fighting, and slowly beginning to discover your place in life. "Rushmore" captures a genuine taste of this time.

    I really wish "Rushmore" had become a TV series, an hourly 'dramedy'. It has a perfect setting and characters for that. The film left me wanting to see more stories involving Max and his world....more info
  • Not memorable, but nevertheless enjoyable and refreshing
    After hearing so much from both sides of the fence about idiosyncratic director Wes Anderson, I feared that I would perhaps develop an active dislike for RUSHMORE, his second feature (and the first of his films that I have seen). I'm all for style, but not when it takes over story and characters, as some have suggested Anderson's style does. As it turns out, though...I kinda like RUSHMORE. In its own offbeat, unsentimental way---and perhaps in spite of its main character, the sometimes monstrously callow 15-year-old Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman)---it has a charm to it that I found engaging, even as I was wincing at some of the things these characters were doing.

    RUSHMORE is basically a coming-of-age tale, in which Max learns to overcome his narcissism and grow up a little. But it is done in a way that never makes it as cloying and sentimental as other movies of its type. By the end, instead of feeling manipulated, you feel some genuine warmth in your heart at how it all turns out (even if it's not necessarily a clean resolution).

    Of course, RUSHMORE is a comedy, not a pure drama, and, while I found some of its humor funny (its funniest moments come in the first half of the movie, while Max is still getting an education), overall I didn't find it very memorable as a comedy. In fact, sometimes its supposed wit seems to be a bit like Max---rather in love with itself. And Anderson has a very strange film style: RUSHMORE is perhaps one of the only widescreen (2.35:1) movies I've seen that STILL feel cramped, since a lot of his close-ups are framed with the figure squarely in the middle. That, and those close-ups seem almost oppressively close-up, often with a figure staring straight at the camera (only the old Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu has done something similar with the framing in his movies, and he often used the classic 1.33:1 frame instead of Anderson's wider canvas). When you see the movie, perhaps you'll see what I mean. It's...interesting, to say the least.

    Still, for all its self-consciousness and its weirdness, RUSHMORE is an enjoyable and refreshing little coming-of-age tale, one that has heart but always remains charmingly offbeat. If nothing else, the performances---particularly Schwartzman's, maybe a little too good at bringing this occasionally bothersome character to life---make the movie work. You will probably not remember much of it when it is over, but nevertheless you'll like it while you watch it. Recommended....more info
  • Left me scratching my head
    Read elsewhere for reviews of the movie. This is an opinion of it.

    I really feel like this quirky comedy-drama is curiosity. I was tempted to give it 1 star to counter all the rave (and undeserved) 5-star reviews, but my honest opinion is that it's average. While it is very interesting in some ways, being odd and different does not (as many lemmings apparently think) make this a masterpiece. And just because you don't fall all over yourself about it doesn't mean you don't appreciate the director's talents.

    The characters and situations are a little out there, and a couple of times I found myself waiting for Max's dream sequences to end -- only to discover that the film continued on, and they weren't dream sequences at all. This is not a movie that reflects real life, but in some ways it acts like it is trying to. If you can get over that, you'll end up enjoying it, I think.

    Funny, amusing, intelligent-but-off-the-wall dialogue and situations are both the strengths and weaknesses of this movie....more info
  • A dear little gem of a movie
    A quirky little tale, the plot is suprisingly conventional but all classic Hollywood format stops there. This film essentianlly revels in character flaws and eccentricities, the polar opposite of Hollywood convention, and it is all the richer for it. It creates an oddly comfortable world of weirdness in which nurdiness is king and breaking the rules wins. It will make you beam in the most hopeful of ways. The acting is subtle and brillaintly delivered. It knows how to grab your emotions to identify with character struggle and development. It comes full circle without cheesy sentiment and inducing the need to loose your dinner. It's perfectly sweet and perculiarly potty. A REAL feel good movie!...more info
  • Rarest of movies
    Rushmore stands alone among movies about young teenagers at a time in their life when anything is possible. I know that sounds cliche, but how else could someone genuinely believe they could attract a woman twice his age who is a teacher at his school (Rosemary Cross)? If Max Fischer were a few years older, he would be considered delusional, but his age forgives his optimism.

    Bill Murray's character, Herman Blume, is an unhappy old man who can probably remember a time when he believed that things like money or family would make him happy. Max and Rosemary Cross manage to fill two voids in his life, love and the belief in things that can make his life worthwhile.

    If this were a stupid teenage fantasy movie, Max might actually get Rosemary to sleep with him, but it is far to smart for that. In the end, all three main characters benefit from knowing eachother, even if it was not the way they wanted.
    ...more info