Dusting Off... Rushmore
What is it?
Released in 1998, Rushmore is the second feature film by director Wes Anderson. Co-written by Anderson and frequent collaborator Owen Wilson, Rushmore stars a then-unknown Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer, a scholarship student at Rushmore Academy, a private preparatory school in Houston, Texas. Max is an eccentric but cocksure 15-year-old student and is involved in every extra-curricular activity the school has to offer; he's the editor of the school newspaper, the president of the bee-keeping society and captain of the LaCrosse team, but his real talent is writing plays. He puts on elaborate and ambitious productions at the school's theatre and, in many ways, he is the model student, But there's a problem: academically, he is one of the worst performing students at Rushmore.
His continuously poor performances in tests and classes are a constant headache for the school's principle Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox) and Max is already facing the threat of expulsion when he meets and finds himself falling for a young, widowed teacher named Miss Cross (Olivia Williams). At the same time, Max also befriends Herman Blume (Bill Murray), a wealthy industrialist who donates to the school and whose boorish twin sons are students there. Blume is bored and depressed; he hates both his sons and his wife, whom he blames for their spoiled, rude behaviour, and finds himself taking a shine to Max, despite his eccentricity.
When Miss Cross spurns Max's romantic advances, he attempts to impress her by organising a groundbreaking ceremony on a new aquarium building on the site of the school's baseball field – without the school's knowledge or permission - but Miss Cross doesn't show up and for Dr. Guggenheim it's the final straw, expelling Max from Rushmore.
Herman tries to console Max by offering him a job and trying to persuade him that Miss Cross is not worth the trouble, only to end up falling for her himself. When she and Herman get together and Max finds out, he sets out to take his revenge.
Why should I revisit?
Like all of Wes Anderson's films, Rushmore is beautifully shot and contains the kind of offbeat humour and quirky characters that have become Anderson's trademark style. While his first film - the low-budget heist comedy Bottle Rocket - was a commercial flop, it did earn him some influential fans within the film industry and its thanks to their patronage that he was given the chance to make Rushmore. As well as being Jason Scwartzman's first acting job, it's also the first time that the director hooked up with Bill Murray, who reportedly worked for free because he was so impressed with the script – and if it's good enough for Bill Murray, who are we to argue?
Who will enjoy it?
If you loved Anderson's more recent films like The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Royal Tenenbaums but have yet to check out his earlier work, you've been missing out by not seeing this film. Get on it, pronto.