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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.68%
Just Average: 9.28%
Pretty Crappy: 5.67%
Sucks: 2.58%

13 reviews, 116 user ratings

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by Andrew Howe

"A beautiful film."
5 stars

Now and again there comes a time when, part-way through a film, you realise that youíre *really* enjoying it. Each scene opens to a sense of anticipation at the delights it will afford your world-weary soul, and when the closing credits finally roll you feel renewed, as if youíve just spent ninety minutes in the company of an old and dear friend.

For me, Grosse Pointe Blank was such a film, as was Still Crazy. I will admit that your state of mind at the time can have as much to do with your chances of breathing that rarefied air as the quality of the film, but most of the time a quick survey will reveal that many others were similarly affected. It is a simple fact that there are certain films which possess that indefinable something, an almost mystical aura which enables them to exert an influence on the viewer which is not unlike the chemistry between a pair of star-crossed lovers. You know you love the film, and if pressed you can offer a number of plausible reasons, but in the end it gets down to a base-level connection which precludes rational explanation.

Which brings us to Rushmore, a film which, on paper, doesnít seem to have a lot going for it, but which nonetheless ranks as one of my most enjoyable experiences in recent memory (and comments about what this says about certain aspects of my life may be kept to yourselves).

The film concerns itself with the misadventures of Max Fischer, a 15 year old borderline geek who attends Rushmore, a local private school (I'd be drawing a rather long bow to say it's exclusive, given the motley bunch of miscreants who seem to make up its student intake). His academic performance is suffering as a result of his involvement in a variety of extracurricular activities (drama clubs and the like), and things degenerate further when he befriends Herman Blume, a local businessman who appears, in the words of Dylan, to have had a lot more than he's needed of some things which turned out bad. In short order they find themselves in competition for the affections of Rosemary Cross, a mildly attractive young teacher at Rushmore, which results in a succession of increasingly over-the-top attempts by our erstwhile buddies to exact vengeance on each other.

None of which sounds like the makings of a particularly good film, which just goes to show how misleading a simple plot summary can be. For example, after reading the above you could be forgiven for thinking that this is some kind of slapstick affair, packed to the gills with amusing and inventive studies in the fine art of revenge. What you wouldn't be aware of is that it is a surprisingly gentle film, infused with a genuine love for its characters which at times makes its categorisation as a comedy seem somewhat misplaced. The vagaries of everyday existence wind their way through this film like the thread of the Fates, encompassing issues as diverse as the price of non-conformity, the birth and death of dreams, the heart-rending sorrow of unrequited love, and the Siren's call of quiet desperation. The three major characters all have their crosses to bear, sometimes with dignity, sometimes not. However, it is impossible not to empathise with them, for to look upon their suffering is to know that they are one with ourselves, their innate nobility deserving of equal measures of pity and respect.

All of which is pretty heavy stuff for a supposed comedy, and none of it could have been pulled off if the film didn't feature a fine cast working from a script which places characterisation high on the agenda. Jason Schwartzman turns in an astonishing performance as Max, bringing a perverse charm to a character who could easily have been allowed to become a minor-league villain. Regular doses of pathos lead us to the light, however Ė heís only a fifteen year old kid, after all, just trying to make it through the best he knows how. No one who was ever that age can fail to appreciate his plight, and there will be few of us indeed who never occasionally acted like mean-spirited brats when things didnít go our way. Itís hard not to be drawn in by his genuine passion for everything he does, the kind of unshakeable optimism only someone in the early stages of their life can feel, but itís leavened with the knowledge that his moment in the sun will be all too brief (the premature death of his mother being a signpost to the darker road he will eventually be forced to travel). Despite his occasional lapses into vindictiveness itís impossible not to wish him the best as he fumbles his way to early manhood, and it is this emotional investment which lies at the core of the movieís appeal.

Bill Murray isnít given quite as much room to move as I would have liked, since there is obviously a great deal more to his character than the screenwriter sees fit to reveal, but he still gives a great showing as a man well-advanced on an inexorable slide into bitterness. All the usual Murray shticks are absent (this is, for all intents and purposes, a dramatic role), but you donít miss them, because his innate charm is sufficient to ensure youíre rooting for him to find the strength to lift himself from the murk.

The cast is rounded out by Olivia Williams as Rosemary Cross, whose inner strength serves to bring a little stability to the disintegrating situation. Even she is not perfect, however, since the death of her husband has evidently left her somewhat cold and distant, and you get the feeling that she hasnít even begun to get over the loss, if indeed she ever will.

So now weíre talking about three wounded souls, wandering through a film which doles out equal measures of pathos, charm and humour. If that sounds like a witches brew then youíre pretty close to the mark, but itís such a heady mixture that itíll leave you reeling. There are so many great scenes in this film, nearly all of which revolve around interactions between the various characters Ė Maxís love for his father struggling to make itself known, Herbert and RosemaryĎs halting first-date conversation on her doorstep, Max making peace with his old schoolyard enemy and his new love Ė all of it totally believable and refreshingly bereft of over-the-top sentiment. To this you can add a slew of great songs, which invariably herald the commencement of another beautifully constructed directorial set-piece (the run-down of Maxís varied activities at the start of the film being the obvious highlight).

And yes, it does feature a sorta happy ending, but in reality it merely suggests that the characters have grown sufficiently to allow them to embark on the next phase of their lives. No assurances, no guarantees, but a satisfyingly warm feeling nonetheless.

There are some misguided souls who have suggested that this film features nasty characters and feeble attempts at humour, and to those people I can only express my sorrow that they were blind to the charms of this brilliant movie. Itís the music of life compressed into a ninety minute sonata, and itíll make you laugh and weep, gently and with passion, for the entirety of its duration.

Movie of the year? It may just be that, my friends. It may just be that.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=203&reviewer=193
originally posted: 01/05/00 07:15:59
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User Comments

7/26/15 stanley welles a delicious twisted treat 4 stars
1/16/12 hurdygurdy man Endured this to see why well liked.. NFI! What fuckin planet am I on?? 1 stars
5/29/11 heather omg this is the worst movie every made dont watch it!!!!!! 1 stars
9/09/10 the dork knight Elitist. Empty. Aimless. What the fuck is so fascinating about this? 1 stars
9/23/09 Monday Morning This flick rocks, and if that makes me a snob, so be it!!! 5 stars
6/29/07 johnnyfog For snobs only. Not endearing, not interesting, not funny. 2 stars
1/07/07 Bitchflaps A fine cast (bar Schwartzman) can't save this dull dull film. 2 stars
12/14/05 Ewok All -Time Greatest Movie ever and a half!! 5 stars
11/05/05 DM Doesn't work in places, but so endearingly unconventional you have to like it. 4 stars
8/17/05 ES Schwartzman embodies the creepy geek = that doesn't help this garbage one bit 1 stars
6/13/05 E-FUNK Wes Anderson's swansong of genious. Murray is amazing as is every detail of this movie. 5 stars
5/25/05 Jake Wes Anderson's Best Film 5 stars
4/29/05 pym Great movie, I love Anderson's sense of humor, Murray and Schwartzman were excellent 5 stars
1/17/05 sbpat21 Really brilliant and quirky 5 stars
1/06/05 HL Let's not assume you'll love this movie...not as funky as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". 4 stars
11/15/04 Dunce Rare film that gets better with repeated viewings. Murray is the best! 5 stars
7/05/04 James Kustes It will be nice to see Murray return in The Life Aquatic 5 stars
4/07/04 Morally Sound Funny movie with all the quirky, satirical comedy one could ever want. Awesome acting too! 5 stars
2/04/04 Asolando Nearly flawless, intelligent, offbeat comedy. 5 stars
7/11/03 Indrid Cold Pretty damn overrated. Anderson has become self-conscious about being an "indie" director. 3 stars
3/21/03 Kyle Overrated, but still a good film nonetheless. 4 stars
2/05/03 natasha_theobald funny and charming and wildly original 5 stars
1/03/03 Thomas Sealey The humor is all in the delivery. Anderson delivers the humor, but makes you figure it out. 5 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby Obscenely overrated; Murray, though, is superb. 2 stars
11/26/02 Zack W. Young This film is brilliant; Mona Lisa and Brahm's 2nd come to mind. 5 stars
11/03/02 Nerf_Herder One of the best films ever made 5 stars
10/17/02 Charles Tatum About as funny as a fart at a funeral 1 stars
8/26/02 I Can't Swim I am in awe of it 5 stars
7/24/02 Chris Muggleworth This movie is like no other, and gives me a feeling like nothing else can 5 stars
7/23/02 erick hilarious, and it only got better (royal tenenbaums) 5 stars
4/17/02 R.W. Welch Has a certain style and low key humor, not a lot of electricty. 4 stars
4/02/02 Butterbean Great ideas, but why does it play out so dull? 2 stars
2/19/02 luda hoe one of my favorite films 5 stars
11/24/01 KC witty yet leaves ou wondering, can be seen as original or boring 3 stars
11/23/01 George Partington Humor, pathos, struggle, growth, understanding, acceptance.read Howe's review; he nailed it 5 stars
8/21/01 Hal Henry Mind-bogglingly good. Dark but adorable, Anderson is the new godfather of literary quirk. 5 stars
8/14/01 shankster If you didn't like this movie - you have no soul 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk A perfect film...no joke. This movie is so original and the cast was amazing to watch. 5 stars
8/06/01 daniel "wow...were you in the shit?" "yeah, i was in the shit." 5 stars
6/27/01 Chris Newton aesteticly pleasing and has a wonderful story to it 5 stars
6/26/01 ted ryan originality is here 4 stars
5/30/01 Carly a quirky, hilarious little gem 5 stars
5/03/01 BrainPan Art-house freaks? Go put on your Linkin Bizkit albums, pop in 'The Program' and have fun. 5 stars
3/09/01 The Mighty Mo When I began tIt had potential and creativity but sucked it with pointless drudgery. 3 stars
3/03/01 doug The best yet from Wes..... 5 stars
2/28/01 Scott This movie is very funny but not for everbody. Murray is always funny and real. 5 stars
2/13/01 Jake Max is not an endearing character at all. Go Swans review sums it up for me. 2 stars
11/08/00 Tim Fair Great movie, all the way around. 5 stars
5/27/00 Jaime N. Christley War does funny things to men. 5 stars
5/05/00 Kieran This movie inspired me in life & praise Jah for Wes dusting off Murray & letting him shine 5 stars
4/12/00 Adrian Pickworth don't fuck with my play! 5 stars
4/09/00 Schrive-dog Murray is a true genius. Loved Mr. Littlejeans . . . "Best play ever, man." 5 stars
4/03/00 Casper Once again a comedic gem is brought to us by geniuses Anderson and Wilson. Loved it!!! 5 stars
2/20/00 arnold the kid with the slingshoy was fucking hilarious 5 stars
2/11/00 Skye Chapman good movie. liked it, but didn't write home about it 4 stars
1/18/00 amanda awesome shit! Bill Murry and Jason Schwartzman, we need to see more of you!!!! 5 stars
1/12/00 Nice Guy Eddie Not what I expected from the trailers -- better! Pleasantly surprised. 5 stars
1/07/00 Man On The Street Thinly veided ode to obsession 4 stars
12/23/99 Wafer Irony is hilarious 4 stars
10/29/99 Bozo I love this to death; great debut by Jason, Bill Murray should've been Oscar winner 5 stars
9/03/99 Elizaveta Yeahhh Bill Murray! I loved this movie so much - smartly hilarious and snide!! 5 stars
7/29/99 Scott Lange Absolutely perfect- my favorite comedy of all-time. 5 stars
7/25/99 Michael Grimm So well written and acted, Bill Murray is the best 5 stars
7/25/99 Ryann Gray Such an in depth entertainer...FUCKING AWESOME IT IS!!! 5 stars
7/15/99 bridgette made me smile, but i didn't laugh as much as i thought i would. still good though 4 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg Critics said this falls apart towards end. What movie were they watching? 4 stars
5/07/99 BraveFan "She's sweet, but she's fucked up." Best of 1998 5 stars
4/26/99 Lucas jackson it was an outstanding movie,I loved the guys plays and Bill Murray was awesome 5 stars
4/24/99 Chelsea, the mod pixie Loved it! Great script, awesome set design, crushworthy lead! 5 stars
4/14/99 Jon Jackson A classic! See it now! Hunt it down! Steal it! Just watch it! 5 stars
3/27/99 Lisa My new reason to live. Seen it 4x so far; seen something new each time. Murray was robbed. 5 stars
3/26/99 kmk not as great as everyone keeps saying, but original and well written. 4 stars
3/25/99 debbie tuttle what's your rushmore? 5 stars
3/23/99 jvt A refreshing teen comedy 5 stars
3/20/99 Andy Rice Good Shit 5 stars
3/19/99 Mambo Howlingly funny in a deadpan way 5 stars
3/17/99 S.B. Glowinski It's just always a great high to see such an original piece of work. 5 stars
3/17/99 Scott Stipe F***in A 5 stars
3/16/99 Chris Ashmore Refreshing and original. Doesn't flow particularly well at times. But, 4 stars. 4 stars
3/12/99 Jeff HOUN good movie, could've been better, no real ending plot 3 stars
3/10/99 nototis Amazing. A coming of age movie that doesn't suck. 5 stars
3/10/99 haden lawyer Original and entertaining 5 stars
3/10/99 Negative Creep Great film. Very entertaining and plus Affleck just rocks. 5 stars
3/10/99 Ah Dooey Charhas' review rocks! Now that's movie business! 5 stars
3/08/99 Thysious I will see it again 5 stars
3/07/99 tellurium Wow, saw it twice. Just the right amount of artisticness to be a successful Hollywood film. 5 stars
3/05/99 Mike Rotch Bring it on! 5 stars
3/02/99 Jerry-93 I laughed, I cried, I pissed my pants 5 stars
3/01/99 slimshady this movie rocked jason schwartzman is hysterically funny , definatly a must see movie 5 stars
2/28/99 captjoe just read charas, laughed so hard I cried 5 stars
2/28/99 jennifer newsome this was the best film i have seen in a long time, it is a true origional, bravo!! 5 stars
2/27/99 Dirty Dave Capone great 5 stars
2/26/99 Viral Messiah AWESOME! 5 stars
2/26/99 Sink Bill Murray.Soundtrack!Great,inventive, film. 5 stars
2/24/99 Cagliostro This movie is *full* of entertainment...wonderful! 5 stars
2/23/99 somber Haven't seen a great movie like this in a while. Here's to of the best of 99 5 stars
2/20/99 MilhousFan Awesome movie man! Great music too! 5 stars
2/18/99 chuck-d it was great! well acted, well written, wonderful direction, and wierd as hell 5 stars
2/18/99 Agsmith I think i liked it.. I scratched my head a lot.. But it was good 4 stars
2/15/99 Vick Di Brecci Soundtrack, Murray, and Shwartzman, are better than the dumb plot which starts off good. 4 stars
2/11/99 Ben An odd movie, but very enjoyable. Murray and Schwartzman were good 5 stars
2/08/99 Gary More creative than most recent movies. Liked the sound track. 4 stars
2/08/99 Jumbles Feels more like real life than anything I've seen in a while. 4 stars
2/08/99 MickCollins Needed more Murray. Max gets creepyas hell after awhile. 4 stars
2/07/99 john this movie was sooo amazing. bill murray is a god. 5 stars
2/06/99 Giladani Saw it at Telluride, has its been changed? Max is creepy, Murray does his usual schtick. 3 stars
1/11/99 Kevin Maynard Murray's found the role of a lifetime. The funniest, saddest performance of the year. 5 stars
1/02/99 Leon Russell Bill Murray is an underrated actor. He deserves parts in serious features. 4 stars
12/28/98 Movie Geezer I really enjoyed this fim---offbeat and refreshing 5 stars
12/27/98 The Dude Bill Murray is great , the movie is funny, and it gives me a major hard on. 5 stars
12/20/98 Mr Showbiz An Oscar-worthy performance by Bill Murray 5 stars
12/13/98 Binky I love me a Wilson. 5 stars
12/11/98 Kirgo Refreshingly odd 4 stars
11/25/98 poppy Tone of BottleRocket w/o the story problems. Bill Murray finally gets a good role. 5 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool So enjoyable and original that it's hard to believe it was funded by a Hollywood studio! 5 stars
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  11-Dec-1998 (R)


  18-Feb-1999 (M)

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