The king of Rushmore prep school is put on academic probation.
Rottentomatoes [87% | 76%]
Rushmore is the second film from writer/director Wes Anderson, also written by Owen Wilson, following the duo’s first release Bottle Rocket [review] in 1996, although the script for Rushmore was done long before the release of Bottle Rocket. It is the first Anderson film that Bill Murray [Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters] was cast in, and Murray has gone on to be cast in every Anderson film since then. Murray actually liked the script and wanted to be in the film so much that he would do it for free. He also paid for a $75,000 helicopter scene that Disney shot down. It is also the feature film debut for actor Jason Schwartzman, who was one of 1800 teenagers who auditioned for the part. He showed up to the audition in a private school jacket and a Rushmore patch that made himself. [source]
Rushmore is about a 15 year old private school student named Max Fischer [Jason Schwartzman] who is struggling to keep his grades up while partaking, leading, and founding countless extracurricular activities. He befriends a local industrialist named Herman Blume [Bill Murray], and falls in love with the new elementary school teacher Ms. Cross, played by Olivia Williams [An Education, The Sixth Sense]. When he is expelled from school, forced to attend a public school, and Mr. Blume becomes attracted to Ms. Cross, Max must find resolution.
Wes Anderson uses a lot of personal touches in this film, something he has come to do in all of his films. He used his own school in Texas, St. John’s School, as the location for Rushmore, and another school on the same block as St. John’s for the set of the Grover Cleaveland public school. Co-writer, Owen Wilson was also expelled from private school in the 10th grade, just like Max Fischer.
The character Max Fischer is one that I find universally relatable. Whether it’s his passion and joy for any one of his activities, his struggling with school or friendship or love, or his trying to be a “better” person than he actually is, he holds a lot of qualities that most of us probably had or have, and it feels satisfying to see both him, Mr. Blume, and Ms. Cross grow both by themselves and with each other. And the culmination of it all with the ending supposed-to-be grade-school play is a spectacular way to go out.
Wilson and Anderson said that Rushmore was their attempt at a “slightly heightened reality, like a Roald Dahl children’s book”, and this film is just that. Even outside the private school and into the public one, the kids put on a high level Max Fischer play. The comedy is achieved without sarcasm or jokes, but instead withing the normalcy of these people’s whimsical world. Within the three characters’ troubled lives you find a lot of heart and both childish behavior and maturation.
3/4 – A wistful comedy about an aspiring play-write/everything that everyone can find a little of themselves in and can learn and mature with.