Movie Night: Rushmore (1998)

Happy Sunday. Tonight I’m trying to ignore the fact that I had five days off and have to work tomorrow. It went by way too quick and It still feels like I didn’t get much accomplished on my free time other then cat management, that one holiday, and a relatively decent amount of nap time. Usually I take the time to chill out a bit before a mew week and watch a movie, so that’s what I’m doing right meow. Decided to watch Wes Anderson’s ‘Rushmore’. Not really sure why, in that his films these days seem a bit tired and almost have a forced art-house aesthetic. I like the older ones better. They were funnier, a bit more unique at the time, and even the soundtracks stood out more in comparison to anything after The Royal Tenenbaums.

Anyway let’s start the movie. Bits via Wikipedia, my commentary is italicized.

Rushmore is a 1998 comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson about an eccentric teenager named Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman in his film debut), his friendship with rich industrialist Herman Blume (Bill Murray), and their mutual love for elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). The film was co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson. The soundtrack was scored by regular Anderson collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh and features several songs by bands associated with the British Invasion of the 1960s.

[Trailer]:

This was the 2nd Wes Anderson flick I saw. Started with The Royal Tenenbaums and worked my way backwards. Bottle Rocket is also really good, and if you happen to watch any of these three in any order, you can really see how unique Anderson’s approach to filmmaking is, even in these early ones.

[Plot] | (Minor Spoilers):

Max Fischer, a mature and eccentric 15-year-old, is a scholarship student at Rushmore Academy, a private school in Houston. He is both Rushmore’s most extracurricular and least scholarly student. He spends nearly all of his time on elaborate extracurricular activities, caring little how it affects his grades. He also feuds with the school’s headmaster, Dr. Guggenheim.

Herman Blume is a cynical industrialist who finds his operation of a multimillion-dollar company to be unsatisfying. He is frustrated that his marriage is failing and the two sons he’s putting through Rushmore are boorish and unrepentant brats spoiled by their mother. Herman comes to admire Max, and the two become close friends. Max admires Herman’s success while Herman is impressed by Max’s cocksure attitude.

rushmore 3
Max meet Herman. Herman meet Max.

As if the plot isn’t strange enough already, the dead pan humor of these two characters literally had me laughing days later, even though I almost felt bad for doing so. There’s such a melancholy AND hilarious tone to this entire film. Can’t think of anything else I could really compare it to.

Rosemary Cross is a widowed teacher who arrives at Rushmore as a new first grade instructor. She joined Rushmore after the death of her husband, who was also a former Rushmore student. Max quickly develops an infatuation with Rosemary and makes many attempts at courting her. While she initially tolerates Max, Rosemary becomes increasingly alarmed at his obvious obsession with her. Along the way, Blume attempts to convince Max that Rosemary is not worth the trouble, only to fall for Rosemary himself. The two begin dating without Max’s knowledge.

rushmore 1
Plot thickens.

Yeah,  the old man and the over achiever are fighting over the science teacher. But Max takes it a bit too far. Like psychopath too far. 

After Max attempts to break ground on an aquarium without the school’s approval, he is expelled from Rushmore. He is then forced to enroll in his first public school, Grover Cleveland High. Attempts to engage in outside activities at his new school have mixed results. A fellow student, Margaret Yang, tries to engage Max, but he pays little attention to her. Rosemary and Blume attempt to support him in his new school.

Eventually, Max’s friend Dirk discovers the relationship between Rosemary and Blume and informs Max as payback for a rumor Max started about his mother.

rushmore 4
Dirk Calloway

Max and Blume go from being friends to mortal enemies, and they engage in back-and-forth acts of revenge. Max informs Blume’s wife of her husband’s affair, thus ending their marriage. Max then puts bees in Blume’s hotel room, then Blume destroys Max’s bicycle with his car. Max cuts the brake lines on Blume’s car, for which he is arrested.

rushmore 7
Don’t mess with Max.

Max eventually gives up and explains to Blume that revenge no longer matters because even if he (Max) wins, Rosemary still would love Blume. Max becomes depressed and stops attending school.

rushmore 2
Love hurts.

Yeah, it turns out that Max is a bit of a psychopath, but so is Herman I suppose. And for that matter, so is Rosemary, for obsessing over her dead husband and willingly leading both of these poor fellows on. It’s like a bizarre lovesick fairy tale, and they all play a part. Max is a playwright, btw.  

He cuts himself off from the world and works as an apprentice at his father’s barber shop. One day, Dirk stops by the shop to apologize to Max and bring him a Christmas present. Dirk suggests Max see his old headmaster in the hospital, knowing Blume will be there. Max and Blume meet and are cordial, and Max finds out that Rosemary broke up with Blume. Max begins to apply himself in school again, and he also develops a friendship with Margaret, whom he casts in one of his plays. Max takes his final shot at Rosemary by pretending to be injured in a car accident, soliciting her affection. When she discovers that Max’s injuries are fake, he is rebuffed again.

rushmore 5
C’est la vie indeed, Max.

Max makes it his new mission to win Rosemary back for Blume. His first attempt is unsuccessful, but then he invites both Herman and Rosemary to the performance of a play he wrote, making sure they will be sitting together. 

rushmore 6
Not actually how it ends.

Tl;dr

The movie is really weird but I love it. It has a noir-like aftertaste even after almost every joke or montage about cutting break-lines and running over your nemesis’ bicycle with a Mercedes. I left my commentary on this film pretty minimal because I’m tired and if you have a chance to check it out, I hope you’ll agree its weirdness stands on its own. [8/10]

Hope you all have a great week.

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3 thoughts on “Movie Night: Rushmore (1998)

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