Rushmore (1998)

by Corinne Rizzo

In Rushmore, Wes Anderson’s second film, the director displays a highly stylized form of storytelling. In watching a film like Bottle Rocket, the viewer can learn that our writer/director (teaming with Owen Wilson), has a knack for developing characters, but from Bottle Rocket to Rushmore, Wes Anderson takes a not just a step toward a style that will carry him through the duration of his career, but some sort of anti-gravity moon leap.

Son of a barber, fifteen year old Max Fischer (played by Jason Schwartzman, attends Rushmore Academy where he is the founder of every extracurricular activity known to man.  And while Max reigns supreme at bringing groups together for everything from the Beekeeper’s Society to Calligraphy Club, his ability to keep up his GPA ends up standing in the way of the thing he loves most: Attending Rushmore Academy.

In perfect synchronicity with his academic probation, Max falls in love with Rosemary Cross, an elementary school teacher at Rushmore. Following their initial meeting, Max takes monumental measures to ensnare Ms. Cross’ affection by breaking ground on a new addition to the school in honor of her. An aquarium.

When his actions get him expelled from his cozy prep school and thrust into public high school, it takes Max a bit to acclimate. Rushmore is the story of Max’s acclimation to the outside world—and finding ways to combine the best of both worlds.

The film opens with a series of theatrical vignettes representing the characters of the film, followed by a similar series, displaying Max’s extracurricular accomplishments. These short vignettes that give the viewer an inside look to the makings of a character is Anderson’s first attempt at the aesthetic, which appears in each sub sequential film.

If you’ve ever seen a Wes Anderson film outside of Bottle Rocket and have been impressed with how cool his characters can seem, how much cooler they are set to a rocking soundtrack, and what slow motion can do for a character’s development, note that Wes Anderson’s ability to convey these things begins with Rushmore. It combines an the elegance of pomp and the grit of the human condition. Like a muddy ballet flat.

On the topic of elegance and grit, Bill Murray makes his debut in the Anderson cannon, paralleling Royal Tennenbaum’s relationship luck down to a long term hotel check in. Also in the film is Luke Wilson, playing a character at the butt of the most popular joke in the film.

With a perpetual fall in the air, the leaves constantly turning and changing, and the overcast skies, Rushmore is the foundation of Wes Anderson’s moody, intellectual, and character driven style.

Grade: B+

Top Five Reasons To Watch Rushmore:

1) You’re going to want to know if they really are O.R. scrubs.

2) It is the beginning of all stylistic choices made by Anderson in his films.

3) Kumar Pallana (keep an eye out!)

4) Can you just see Anderson’s gears churning with the marine biology thing?

4) The soundtrack.

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Posted on February 8, 2012, in REViEW and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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