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(1998) (Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray) (R)

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Comedy: A constantly scheming and over ambitious private school student tries to get a teacher to fall for him while dealing with her other suitor.
Max Fischer (JASON SCHWARTZMAN) is one of the worst students at the exclusive Rushmore Academy, but that hasn't prevented him from founding or presiding over numerous clubs, organizations and the like. With his young protégé, Dirk Calloway (MASON GAMBLE), always in tow and constantly by his side, 15-year-old Max never fails to come up with an angle or scheme -- including telling everyone that his barber father, Bert Fischer (SEYMOUR CASSEL), is a neurosurgeon -- to better suit his needs or belittle the snotty rich boys who attend Rushmore with him.

Faced with "sudden death" academic probation by the school's headmaster, Dr. Guggenheim (BRIAN COX), and having to deal with the angry threats and taunts from Magnus Buchan (STEPHEN McCOLE), a foreign exchange student, Max, who received an academic scholarship to Rushmore for his playwrighting skills, finds himself with an even greater predicament.

It seems he's fallen for one of the school's first grade teachers, Miss Cross (OLIVIA WILLIAMS), but can't get her to reciprocate the feelings. Enlisting some financial aide from Mr. Blume (BILL MURRAY), one of the Academy's benefactors and a local steel tycoon who's taken a shine to Max's offbeat demeanor, the 15-year-old tries to build an aquarium on the school's baseball field to impress Miss Cross.

Unfortunately, that action has two side effects. First, it gets Max expelled from Rushmore and forces him to enroll in the dreaded nearby public school system. More importantly, however, it introduces the married Mr. Blume to Miss Cross who he also falls for. As they begin a covert affair that the jealous young suitor soon learns about, Max, who must also deal with the affections of fellow student Margaret Yang (SARA TANAKA), decides to use every resource at his disposal to ruin Blume while still trying to win Miss Cross' heart.

Teens may be attracted to this offbeat comedy, as might Bill Murray fans, but don't expect this one to be a huge "must see" for your kids.
For language and brief nudity.
  • JASON SCHWARTZMAN plays the brashly resourceful, over-achieving student who lies, schemes and puts his extracurricular activities above his academic ones. He also cusses, smokes, has a drink and, spited by his new friend and a teacher who doesn't reciprocate his crush, invokes revenge on both of them.
  • BILL MURRAY plays a constantly smoking and married steel tycoon who befriends Max, but then has an affair with the teacher with whom Max is already smitten. He also cusses some.
  • OLIVIA WILLIAMS plays that teacher who refuses Max's romantic advances, but does have an affair with a married man.
  • MASON GAMBLE plays Max's lieutenant who assists him in his many schemes and activities.
  • SARA TANAKA plays a young girl who's attracted to Max.
  • STEPHEN McCOLE plays a Scottish student who constantly harasses and threatens Max.


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    If a movie character and the film in which he appears could have cinematic cousins, then one would have to wager that Max Fischer and the film "Rushmore" have fallen from the same family tree as Ferris Bueller and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

    Similar in attitude and tone, but much darker and decidedly more offbeat, "Rushmore" is something of a combination of "Ferris Bueller" mixed with doses of varied films such as "The Graduate" and "Revenge of the Nerds" (and you probably never thought those two disparate pictures could ever be used together in describing a film).

    Much like the aggressively quirky cousin that some at a family reunion find amusing while others there will do anything to avoid, the film is definitely something of an acquired taste and its darker side makes it a bit less approachable than the rather innocent and jolly "Ferris Bueller." Nonetheless, if you sit back with an open mind and allow this film to work its offbeat and often outrageous "magic" upon you, you may just find yourself getting a kick out of it.

    About as polar opposite a view of high school life as one could get from last week's "Pygmalion" retreading in "She's All That," this film lets its audience know right from the onset that it's going to take us down a relatively untraveled Hollywood road.

    From a brief, but amusing opening dream sequence to the theatrical staging of "Serpico" and a lavish Vietnam play that would make both Oliver Stone and Francis Ford Coppola proud, the film offers a bevy of offbeat highlights that are simultaneously clever and entertaining.

    While it's unfortunate that the film can't sustain its comic madness for its full 100+ minute length, and that loses much of its otherwise head-on direction and momentum toward its conclusion, the writing and direction, as well as the bravura performances contained within definitely make the film worth seeing.

    As written and directed by Wes Anderson (who made a big splash with his critically acclaimed, but little seen film "Bottle Rocket" which he also co-wrote with this film's other writer and executive producer, Owen Wilson), the film doesn't showboat its quirkiness as much as let it naturally ooze off the screen. While nearly every scene is imaginatively staged and shot, and an eclectic collection of '60's tunes perfectly complements the scenes and overall dark comedy hipness, few of the individual scenes -- if any -- draw undue attention to themselves.

    The performances, however, are what really make the film work and kudos should go out to the filmmakers and casting crew for finding newcomer Jason Schwartzman. Seemingly born to inhabit this role, Schwartzman plays his character with just the right edginess and verve that he never appears to be acting. Instead, he's simply Max Fischer and it's a great debut performance (let's hope, however, that he's not really just playing himself -- his next picture will obviously answer that concern).

    On the other end of the experience spectrum is Bill Murray ("Groundhog Day," "Ghostbusters") who is also quite good in what may be one of his best performances in years and perhaps his entire career. He's always exuded bits of darkness in his humor, and by downplaying his stereotypical mugging and wackiness for an edgier role with more subtly played nuances, Murray creates what's probably the most interesting character he's ever played.

    While many are clamoring that he should receive an Oscar nomination for this performance -- which he may very well do -- I'd say it's an outside shot at best. Nonetheless, he still deserves credit for taking and perfectly playing this smaller, supporting role.

    Other performances, from the likes of Olivia Williams (who managed to escape with her fledgling career relatively unscathed after her debut appearance in "The Postman") to Mason Gamble ("Dennis the Menace") and Seymour Cassel (an Oscar nominee in "Faces"), are all decent across the board and nicely complement Schwartman's, Murray's and the picture's overall efforts.

    Although the film does lose its focus during its waning moments (the Vietnam-set stage play, while funny, just sort of arrives without really feeling congruous with the rest of the plot), and the anticipated showdown between Max and Mr. Blume as Miss Cross' rival suitors feels shortchanged and thus a bit of a letdown, most of this offbeat and quirky film is highly original, superbly acted, and a lot of fun to watch.

    While it probably won't appeal to everyone's tastes, for those with an appetite for decidedly un- Hollywood like fare, this may just be the perfect antidote for the standard-issue and otherwise lame teen-based comedies to which we're usually subjected. We give "Rushmore" a 7 out of 10.

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is heavy with 8 "f" words and an assortment of others, as well as religious and otherwise colorful phrases. Some sexually related talk occurs (mainly relating to Max boasting that he got a "hand job" from his friend's attractive mother) and we briefly see several posters of bare-breasted women (that several young boys also see).

    Two central characters carry on an affair that hurts Max's feelings, but he also has bad attitudes in the way he acts and treats others. Some drinking occurs during the film, including one scene where Max is a bit intoxicated (even with adult supervision), and several characters, including one played by Bill Murray, smoke quite a bit.

    The violence that's present is limited to several punches, some rock throwing, and some staged gunfire during a play. Beyond that, however, many of the other categories present in this film have little or no major objectionable content. Even so, should you be concerned with the film's appropriateness for yourself or someone else in your home, you may wish to take a closer look at what's been listed.

  • Max gives a theatrical command that a person enter stage right with a bag of cocaine (not seen and obviously made up for the play).
  • Blume has a drink at a birthday party.
  • People have drinks after one of Max's plays (including some students but it can't be discerned whether what they're drinking is alcoholic or not).
  • Blume, Miss Cross and a friend of hers and others in a restaurant have wine or drinks with dinner. We then learn that Blume bought a drink for Max and comments are made about his behavior being exacerbated by that drink (whiskey and soda).
  • Miss Cross has a glass of wine with a meal.
  • Blume pours what's presumably some liquor into his soft drink.
  • People have drinks after Max's final play.
  • Max has a tiny bit of blood around his nose after being punched.
  • Max has some fake blood on his head, and actors also have fake blood/injuries during one of his plays.
  • Some will see Max as having both for showing disdain for his fellow, but silver-spooned classmates; for falling for and constantly pursuing the adult Miss Cross; for rebuking Margaret's affection; and for lying, scheming and trying to get by on his brash resourcefulness instead of being a decent guy.
  • Mr. Blume has both for having an affair with Miss Cross, and in doing so, hurting Max, his new friend. Likewise, Miss Cross has both for having an affair with the married Mr. Blume.
  • Angus constantly harasses or threatens Max.
  • One of Blume's sons tells him to "pull your head out of your ass."
  • Max is demeaning to Miss Cross' friend.
  • Max refers to Magnus as a "mick."
  • Max tries to force a kiss on Miss Cross.
  • None.
  • Shotgun: Used to shoot skeet.
  • Crossbow: Received by one of Blume's sons as a gift.
  • Fake guns/Machine Guns/Rocket launcher/Flame thrower, etc...: Seen in some of Max's plays.
  • Large knife/Throwing stars: Carried and/or thrown by Magnus (at no one and nothing in particular).
  • Air Rifle: Handed to Max by Dirk who then walks away with it and later uses it to shoot Magnus in the ear (with a BB).
  • Dynamite: Purchased by Max for his play (and presumably used during it to create explosions).
  • Phrases: "Bang," "Hand job" and "Screwed" (sexual), "Pull your head out of your ass," "Chicks" (for females), "I don't give a rat's ass," "Mick" (derogatory ethnic slur), "Put a cap in his ass" (shoot someone)," "Jerk" and "Bastards."
  • Max's scheming and offbeat behavior and attitudes may be of imitative fodder for some kids.
  • Magnus shoots something through a straw (possible a tack, but maybe just a spit-ball) that hits another student in the neck.
  • Dirk spits on Blume's car for having an affair with Miss Cross (and thus spiting Max).
  • Max gives "the finger" to Guggenheim.
  • Max sends a small swarm of bees into Blume's hotel room as revenge.
  • Max sticks his chewing gum wad on a wall.
  • Blume purposefully drives over Max's bike, causing the student to later cut the brake lines on Blume's car.
  • Max shoots Magnus in the ear (from a distance and with a BB rifle).
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 8 "f" words (1 used sexually), 7 "s" words, 2 slang terms for male genitals ("pr*ck"), 5 asses, 3 hells, 3 damns, 1 crap, and 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Oh God," "Jesus Christ" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • A comment is facetiously made about "banging" Dirk's mother.
  • Max tells his father, "I should probably try harder to score with chicks," stating that it's the only thing with which people are concerned.
  • Max lies to Magnus about getting a "hand job" from Dirk's mother in the backseat of her car, and Magnus later repeats this to Dirk.
  • Dirk then tells Max that Blume and Cross went skinny dipping in Blume's pool and then gave each other "hand jobs."
  • Having discovered that Blume is having an affair with Cross, Max confronts him and states that she was probably good "...but I'd never know. Because I never screwed her." He then makes another comment about a "hand job."
  • Confronting Max on his infatuation with her, Miss Cross asks if he thinks their "relationship" will eventually lead up to sex. He then comments that calling it that makes it cheap, and she says that one might feel that way "if you've never f*cked before."
  • A comment is made about "getting a piece" (slang for sex).
  • Some young kids stare at large posters of several bare-breasted women on the set of one of Max's plays.
  • Blume smokes throughout the movie, while Max takes up smoking in the film's second half. Meanwhile Cross smokes a few times, Guggenheim smokes a pipe, and Magnus and Dirk's mother also smoke.
  • A student has a smoking exhibit as her school project (with a human mask smoking a cigarette) and some students have cigarettes while acting during one of Max's plays.
  • Miss Cross (whose husband died a year ago) and Max (whose mother died when he was young) briefly talk about those deaths.
  • Blume states that he's being sued for divorce (due to his affair).
  • Max's overall behavior and attitude and how most parents wouldn't consider him to be a good role model.
  • Extramarital affairs and students who fall for their teachers.
  • Blume's sons knock down Max to get into their father's car.
  • Characters fire fake guns/weapons in some of Max's plays.
  • A student actor punches Max in the face.
  • Blume purposefully drives over Max's bike.
  • Dirk and other students throw rocks at Max.
  • Max runs up to attack Magnus, but that student punches Max in the face, knocking him unconscious.

  • Reviewed February 1, 1999 / Posted on February 5, 1999

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