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Rushmore (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon September 21, 2012
Comedy is so subjective. Some people want American Pie, The Hangover, or the latest Eddie Murphy movie, while others prefer gentle indie comedies such as Little Miss Sunshine.

What makes you laugh?

I often think about my own sense of humor and it's difficult to pin down at times. I tend to avoid cheap laughs or things done for shock value, and I admire intelligent dialogue and quirky or original takes on everyday situations. One director who never fails to make me smile is Wes Anderson. He definitely falls into the quirky category, but there is so much more to his movies than that.

Rushmore is Anderson's second movie, coming two years after his debut, Bottle Rocket. Both movies were written with Owen Wilson, and they have a similar feel. Anderson is one of those directors who appears to make movies about nothing and it's easy to sit there wondering what you just watched. But, unlike many comedies, there are deeper themes present. I usually find myself thinking about Anderson's work several days after I see the movie. That's the case this time, and it's the main reason I am writing this review.

Rushmore stars Jason Schwartzman in his first role. He plays Max Fischer, who is a 15-year-old student at Rushmore, a private school. He's there because he wrote a play in second grade and won a scholarship. Most of the students have rich parents, but Max's father is a barber and Max has to lie and claim that he's the son of a brain surgeon in order to gain acceptance.

Max is struggling at school and is informed that he'll be expelled if he flunks another class. His main problem is not one of intelligence, it's his lack of focus. He takes on so many extracurricular activities that he doesn't have time to work on his grades. We see snippets of Max indulging in each of these activities, such as beekeeping and fencing, and these snapshots give the movie a lot of charm. It reminds me of Amelie and some of Jeunet's other work in that regard.

As usual, something feels odd in Anderson's world. This effect is heightened by the dialogue. For example, Max sounds as if he is much older. He talks so seriously and it's funny that someone of that age thinks the way he does. Watch him direct Serpico for the school play and you'll see just what I mean.

The heart of the story involves an unusual love triangle. Max befriends Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who is a wealthy tycoon and former student of Rushmore. They both develop feelings for Miss Cross (Olivia Williams), who teaches at the school.

I won't reveal any more of the plot, because it doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that Rushmore is a typical Wes Anderson film. He'll surprise you at times, make you laugh, and leave you wondering how he came up with such original ideas.

I should also mention Mark Mothersbaugh, who began his association with Anderson on this film by contributing to the soundtrack. Other music used in the film includes songs by The Kinks, The Who, The Faces, and John Lennon. They all add to the nostalgic tone and fit perfectly.

Owen Wilson doesn't appear in this one, but Luke and Andrew Wilson are both involved. If you appreciate quirky comedy, Rushmore won't disappoint.

The Criterion Blu-ray offers a superb presentation. Colors are natural throughout and you'll feel as if you are standing next to the characters. The special features are also noteworthy and the highlight is a 55-minute feature showing interviews with Murray and Anderson on the Charlie Rose Show. Fans of commentaries will be happy that Anderson, Owen Wilson and Schwartzman appear on the commentary track.

If you are curious about the appeal of Wes Anderson, Rushmore isn't a bad starting point. It won't work for everyone though.

Overall score 4.5/5
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on March 2, 2004
I wish there were more movies like this one. It's totally off-the-wall, but has intelligence and a warm heart. At first, I wasn't sure if this movie was going to be my cup of tea: The kid and his friends just reek of weirdness.
But, I was hopelessly drawn to them in minutes, and interested in what they were going to do or say.
Bill Murray excels in this movie. Forget "Lost in Translation", THIS film contains his best work. He truly shows an emotional scale that ranges from A to Z.
The supporting oddball characters are mercilessly intriguing. Just when you think they're coming out of left field (or from another planet), they show their humanity. End result: you end up liking them...a lot.
The music is right on target, especially Cat Stevens. The instrumental portions are appropriately playful and memorable.
I loved this movie. It's a masterpiece.
The packaging is superb, and the DVD contains enough bonus material to make this one fine purchase. Yep, it costs a lot, but the old adage is true: You get what you pay for.
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on March 1, 2004
This promises to be a more satisfying DVD than the mass-market edition as it offers many bonuses along with the very engaging movie. Rushmore took me by surprise when I first saw it. Jason Schwartzman's character, Max Fischer, has to be one of the most original high school protagonists to come along in a long time. He finds himself a square peg in a round hole at a prep school, concocting one fantastic scheme after another which livens up the otherwise dreary academic experience of Rushmore.
Bill Murray provides a remarkable performance as a self-made millionaire, Mr. Blume, whom young Max solicits for his grandest scheme yet, a multi-million dollar aquarium to please the young teacher he is so smitten by. This soon evolves into a very comic love triangle, with Max opting for some rather dark attempts at getting back at Blume for stealing his love interest. The object of affection is a very fetching Olivia Williams.
There are so many odd turns in this movie that it continually catches you by surprise. Most notable are the plays Max stages including a theatrical version of Serpico and one of the Vietnam War. But, probably the most touching scenes are those between Max and his father, played by Seymour Cassel. Max tries to distance himself from the lowly station of his father, a local barber, but eventually is able to reconcile himself with his father.
Max finally accepts that Miss Cross maybe a little too old for him, and places his affections in the more suitable Margaret Yang, having now been kicked out of Rushmore and finding himself having to face the trials and tribulations of public school. The movie is underscored by a fine soundtrack that includes Rod Stewart's Ooh La La, when he sang for the Faces. This is a great movie, ranking up there with Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Dazed and Confused as one of the best high school movies of all time.
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on January 16, 2004
For everyone who agrees that Rushmore is on par with any and all the other "greatest movies of all time", the Criterion Collection DVD will more than pay you back in value for the extra cash you throw down.
Granted, the play's the thing, ....Also granted, some Criterion titles are all prestige and no payoff (Seven Samurai anyone?). But this is one of the very few instances where the potential of DVD technology has been fully and briliantly exploited. You can read the list of special features for yourself in the product description. Let me assure you that the technical enhancements make this transfer look glorious even on a regular television, and the content of the commentary track and other extras truly add to the Rushmore Experience.
If you love this movie, the Criterion Collection version is worth the investment. And my local video guru tells me that it's now out of print, so if you've had it on the back burner, don't put it off much longer.
On a personal note, if Bill Murray doesn't finally win the Oscar this year for Bob Harris that he earned for Herman Blume in 1998, Hollywood should fall into the ocean.
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on December 2, 2003
Rushmore, the creator's second film, showcases Anderson's orderly and painstakingly precise directorial style. The lighting ideal, the colors vibrant, and the music perfectly compatible, Wes Anderson emerges from Rushmore as perhaps the greatest director in the business today. The greatest thing about Anderson, even besides his proficient directing, is his intelligent writing of Rushmore, co-written by Owen Wilson. Rushmore tells the story of Max Fischer, a poor kid who goes to an exclusive private school, Rushmore, because he wrote "a little one-act about Watergate" when he was in the first grade. His mother's dying wish was for him to attend Rushmore Academy, and thus, Max was accepted. The problem with Max, however, is that, though he is very involved in the school and has started a countless number of extracurricular clubs and societies, he puts none of his attention on his schoolwork and his, consequently, put on academic probation and then asked to leave. In the process he meets Blume [Bill Murray], a jaded tycoon, and Miss Cross, a teacher at Rushmore--both who are fascinated with Max's precocity and ambition. They, however, fall in love with each other, despite Max's love for Miss Cross. This starts an infuriated Max to revenge Blume, who stole his girl, in many strange--if not exaggerated--ways. The music of Rushmore is comprised of nothing but British Invasion--The Who, The Creation, The Kinks, and John Lennon--and fits the defiantly youthful disposition of Max impeccably.
Unlike most comedies, Rushmore never falls into shoddy writing--because of the confidence of the writers, they can pull off any situation or line that they so choose. When asked how he's already got it "pretty figured out," Max replies, "The secret, I don't know...I guess you've just gotta find something you love to do and then do it for the rest of your life. For me, it's going to Rushmore." A line as fanciful as this is harder to construct than one might think, and in the hands of an unskilled writer the relation of such an idea would seem dishonest or untruthful. But, because the wording is just right, the line comes about very nicely. Though the writing is very good, Rushmore fails to make a succinct statement or to really relay a perceptible point, in the end. Though it can easily be surmised that the ending is meant to be an optimistic one--Max performing another of his plays and finding an age-appropriate girlfriend--the film does not close properly and thus incites confusion in the viewer. Max takes little interest in the girl and treats her poorly since his meeting her, and is even reluctant to call her his girlfriend, in the closing scene. The film, then, ends on a strange note--even the closing music [The Faces' "Ooh La La"] is cagey and mysterious--and you are unsure as to how you should feel. The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson's next film, closes in a less ambiguous way: Though Royal has died, he has, indeed, finished what he set out to do. So, though Royal's death is sad, it is cheerful and nice, as well. Despite the objectionable conclusion, overall, Wes Anderson's Rushmore is a well-written and superbly directed film.
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Wes Anderson followed up the wonderful "Bottle Rocket" with "Rushmore," a coming-of-age romantic-comedy-drama that actually seems halfway plausible. Wittily-written, well-acted, and solidly-directed with plenty of amusing quirks.
Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) attends the elite Rushmore Academy, and is perhaps the most unusual student there -- he's part of every club and team in Rushmore, but failing all his classes. He encounters an odd friend of sorts in the unhappy magnate Herman Blume (Bill Murray), who is impressed by Max. At the same time, he befriends the smart, pleasant teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams).
But Max's world is turned upside-down. When he tries to build a magnificent aquarium in honor of Miss Cross, he's expelled from Rushmore. Worse yet, he learns that she's having an affair with Blume, who's every bit as attracted to her as Max is. Will Max, having lost what defined his life (namely, Rushmore), be able to bounce back?
"Rushmore" is one of those movies that Wes Anderson does really well -- it doesn't fit neatly into any one category, it's smart, it's funny, and the characters are endearing in a weird, quirky sort of way (especially when engaging in a sort of revenge one-upping, for the love of the teacher). It somehow manages to be sweet and pleasant without being schmaltzy or boring.
The writing is humorous, but not the sort of snort-hee-hee comedy that most movies have. (The limpest humor in here is the "O.R. scrubs" joke, and then it's clearly meant to be lame). Max's particular brand of dynamic brilliance is outlined best in the Vietnam-based school play, a mediocre idea raised to amazing levels. And unlike most movies of any kind, it leaves you thinking. Are the places we WANT to be the best places for us to be? Or would we really be happier elsewhere? Are the people we adore the people we should be with?
Max is an unusual character -- smart and mature, but somehow not quite as mature as he thinks he is. He always aspires to climb higher and higher, and clearly sees no end to how far he can go, and Schwartzman does an excellent job without being obvious about it. Bill Murray does a fantastic job as the depressed magnate who doesn't like his life as it is. Williams does a less amazing job, but is good as the center that the other two revolve frantically around.
"Rushmore" is a different but fully worthy follow-up to "Bottle Rocket," and it definitely won't disappoint Wes Anderson fans. A wonderful movie by a fantastic director.
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on July 4, 2003
"Rushmore" is the second film by director Wes Anderson, who has found himself a quaint, innovative style of writing and directing that works on many levels. This film is the story of Max Fisher(Jason Schwartzman), a teenage pupil at Rushmore Academy. Max is unique in that he isn't as rich as his other schoolmates; he's there on a scholarship that was given to him after impressing the head of the Academy with a play he wrote when he was 7(it was "a little one-act about Watergate). Max is also possibly Rushmore's worst student, but is its most extracurricular, frequently founding groups and putting on plays. Blume(Bill Murray) befriends Max, they seem to have some kind of unspoken connection that Blume can't find with his wife and kids. But they both fall for the same woman, a teacher at Rushmore, and both are determined to get her.
This is just the basic outline of the movie, there is so much more to it. There's a subtle glance here and there, there's a sadness in almost every one of the characters, and it all results in a very poignantly sad, funny, and sincere movie. The music is dead on perfect, ranging from The Who to Cat Stevens, and it all works magnificently.
The DVD has some wonderful cover art (it's nice to see more than the lead actor's giant heads on the cover) that fits perfectly with the quirky tone of the movie. There are some wonderful new special features, such as commentary from Anderson, co-writer Owen Wilson, and Schwartzman. The commentary from Anderson and Wilson is somewhat entertaining, whereas Schwartzman is only occasionally so. The main documentary about the movie seems somewhat rambling and without focus, but still works. There are some really interesting auditions from Schwartzman and others.
All in all, this is a wonderful DVD. We should all be thankful to Criterion for doing it again.
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on July 4, 2003
"Rushmore" is the second film by director Wes Anderson, who has found himself a quaint, innovative style of writing and directing that works on many levels. This film is the story of Max Fisher(Jason Schwartzman), a teenage pupil at Rushmore Academy. Max is unique in that he isn't as rich as his other schoolmates; he's there on a scholarship that was given to him after impressing the head of the Academy with a play he wrote when he was 7(it was "a little one-act about Watergate). Max is also possibly Rushmore's worst student, but is its most extracurricular, frequently founding groups and putting on plays. Blume(Bill Murray) befriends Max, they seem to have some kind of unspoken connection that Blume can't find with his wife and kids. But they both fall for the same woman, a teacher at Rushmore, and both are determined to get her.
This is just the basic outline of the movie, there is so much more to it. There's a subtle glance here and there, there's a sadness in almost every one of the characters, and it all results in a very poignantly sad, funny, and sincere movie. The music is dead on perfect, ranging from The Who to Cat Stevens, and it all works magnificently.
The DVD has some wonderful cover art (it's nice to see more than the lead actor's giant heads on the cover) that fits perfectly with the quirky tone of the movie. There are some wonderful new special features, such as commentary from Anderson, co-writer Owen Wilson, and Schwartzman. The commentary from Anderson and Wilson is somewhat entertaining, whereas Schwartzman is only occasionally so. The main documentary about the movie seems somewhat rambling and without focus, but still works. There are some really interesting auditions from Schwartzman and others.
All in all, this is a wonderful DVD. We should all be thankful to Criterion for doing it again.
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on April 29, 2003
"Rushmore" so obviously wants viewers to enjoy themselves that the film will register with many as very good entertainment and little more.
Persistent viewers find that "Rushmore" is also a film of rare meticulousness, in which something as seemingly minor as a school teacher's classroom number, on screen for about 2 seconds, may resonate on three distinct levels. "What is this movie doing, how, and why?" is a question some viewers are unlikely to ask of any film, but for those so inclined, "Rushmore" provides an embarrassment of riches in return.
The storytelling style of "Rushmore" is highly elliptical; what it doesn't show is frequently as important as what it does. We don't find out that the barber cutting Max's hair is his father until Max produces a failed geometry test and dryly intones, as though asking for a little more off the sides, "By the way. I need your signature on this," establishing in one deft stroke Max's alienation from his own background.
Later, though we see Margaret's remote-controlled airplane arrive and depart from where Max and Dirk are flying a kite, Margaret herself is shown neither arriving nor departing: she is simply and suddenly present on the tarmac. Likewise, her presence in Max's heart will be noticed by him in the course of this scene with the same abruptness.
What makes "Rushmore" so moving is that within its ingenious technical framework, beneath its beguiling artifice beats a whole community of hearts. Everyone in the movie is a person, frequently a deeply damaged person defined in some way by death. Max, who lost his guiding light when cancer took his mother 8 years before, is a young man of protean ambition and perfect self-absorption who fails to realize his weakness until he's run out of people to hurt. Herman, whose great professional success in no way helps the part of him stuck in Vietnam, is permanently estranged from his wife, his sons, hope and life itself. Rosemary has pledged eternal devotion to a deceased lover who is incomparable to anyone except -unfortunately for all- 15 year-old Max.
Though nominally a comedy, the film manages a tonal breadth equal to that of any film one might care to mention- from the giddiness of first love to the blankness of the umpteenth heartbreak, and everything in between, without grinding a single gear, probably because sadness is latent in even its funniest moments, and humor lights the edges of even its most depressive ones.
By the end of the film and the sublimely off-kilter "Heaven and Hell Cotillion", featuring Django Reinhardt's balmy guitar, it seems as if the director is gathering all of his characters together one last time to make up, in some small way, for all the trouble they've gone through. The "Cotillion" seems to exist, as well, to allow the audience one last chance to bask in redemption, and watch reconciliation flow like wine before returning to a real world where both are a good deal more scarce.
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on February 27, 2003
i'm tired of hearing people say in these online reviews, "well it's only for some people" or "you have to have such and such a kind of humor to really enjoy this movie." oh give it up already! if you didn't come out of watching this movie with at least a smirk on your face chances are you're a really stupid person.
i keep hearing wes anderson movies being touted as another case of the emporer's new clothes. you're probably also the guy back in the junior high who asked the english teacher, "did they really mean to put all that extra stuff into the poetry? i think english teachers are seeing stuff that isn't there." welcome to the adult version, just sort this list of reviews by lowest rating first and you have those annoying little slow kids who held the rest of the class back.
am i being overly harsh? perhaps. but it's in response to people saying those of us who enjoy mutli-faceted art are pretentious or deceptive. if you really aren't bright enough to understand this movie, best to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool, etc.
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