|"Maybe I'm spending too much of my time starting up clubs and putting on plays. I should probably be trying harder to score chicks."|
|Time: 93 mins.|
I didn't really know what to expect of RUSHMORE. It's tone is dark and quirky, centering around the pain of a young man trying to come to grips with his unrequited love. Schwartzman is fantastic as Max Fisher, a 15-year-old going on 30, private school student with a very adult and active imagination. Max is at times confident and childish, capturing the teen years in a heart-breaking and true-to-life way. If you ever felt like an outcast in your life, you will relate to Max and his story. This is a brilliantly acted and written film that will probably not get the attention it deserves because it's humor is not of the bathroom variety. To get this movie requires intelligence, something moviegoers are perfectly willing to live without these days. This movie shows what great filmmaking can be.
In the beginning there's Max. A teen with an active imagination for whom Rushmore, the private school he attends, is his life. He is a member or president of almost every club on campus. He is so into the Rushmore experience, so busy with all his extracurricular activities that he's failing out. One more semester of bad grades and he's gone. The warning doesn't really phase Max. They can't kick him out, he's insinuated himself into almost every area of the school. He believes they can't function without him. He knows he's nothing without Rushmore.
While pretending to study, an inscription in one of the library books inspires him to find the writer. He finally tracks down Ms. Cross (Williams), a teacher at Rushmore, and instantly falls in love. He schemes to meet her and they eventually become friends. Max reminds her of her deceased husband, who also went to Rushmore. While starting up a relationship with Ms. Cross, Max also begins a friendship with Mr. Blume (Murray), an alumni with a chip on his shoulder against the rich. Max is a go-getter, which impresses Blume who is deeply disappointed by the morons his twin teenage sons turned out to be. It soon becomes apparent to Ms. Cross that Max is interested in more than just friendship. She makes it very clear to him that they will never be more than just friends, but Max refuses to believe her. His feelings for her are strong enough to overcome any obstacles.
To prove his love for her, he dedicates his latest play to her, inviting her and Mr. Blume out to dinner to celebrate his current theatrical extravaganza. Unfortunately, the dinner does not go as planned. Max, upset with Ms. Cross for bringing a date, explodes in anger berating her in front of the entire restaurant for being insensitive to his wishes and feelings. Finally understanding the depth of Max's emotions, she puts an end to the relationship in order to spare him further pain. This is not an option for Max and he enlists the help of Mr. Blume and his chapel partner Dirk (Gamble) in winning back her friendship. What he doesn't anticipate is that Mr. Blume, in a loveless marriage, would go after Ms. Cross for himself.
Max tries to win her love by building a large scale aquarium for her on the school grounds specifically the baseball field. He goes at the project with typical Max style and persistence, learning everything there is to know about building and acquiring the manpower to get the job done. Unfortunately, he forgets to clear it with the school administration and they use this incident to finally have him expelled. Not being a part of Rushmore is just not an option for Max. Though he's forced to attend the local high school, he still wears his Rushmore uniform and tries to set-up clubs just like he used to do. The one place he seems to fit right in is the drama club. Strange though he is, he starts to fit in and with Ms. Cross' help even begins to bring his grades up.
Still in touch with Dirk, he discovers that Mr. Blume has been seeing Ms. Cross. Even though Blume tries to convince Max that he loves Ms. Cross and that nothing sexual has taken place, Max is overwhelmed by his friend's betrayal and an all out war breaks out between the two for her affection and other's complete annihilation. The fighting between the two is more than she can bear and destroys the budding feelings she has for Blume. It also ruins Blume's marriage, causing his wife to throw him out of the house and file for divorce. Staring to fit in at his new school, Max begins a friendship with a brainy girl in his class, Margaret, and a new theatrical production that is guaranteed to blow the roof off the school.
The finale has Max renewing his friendship with Blume. He feels bad about what happened and helps him try to re-win Ms. Cross' affection by actually building the aquarium. Even while trying to convince Ms. Cross that Blume is a worthwhile guy, Max cannot resist trying to make her fall for him. When she throws him out of her house for the umpteenth time, he finally begins to understand that things between them are not meant to be. His latest play brings together all the disparate people and ideas in his life. Through it's creation he finally discovers who he is and what he wants to be. He also finds love and true friendship.
RUSHMORE is an unusual movie with strong themes and even stronger performances. The lead trio of Schwartzman, Murray and Williams are amazing together. Their affection and frustration with each other is palpable and drives the film to its inevitable conclusion. Though disparate in age, Mr. Blume and Max are two peas in a pod and these actors give them everything they've got. This is a story of imagination, love and anger like you rarely get to see. On top of that, it's damn funny. Max is so geeky and absurd, yet so obviously in need of love, that you just can't help but want him to succeed. Everything about this film, from the writing to the music, is a class act. It's one you definitely want to search out and see. You won't regret it.