Rating -

Comedy (US); 1998; Rated R; 93 Minutes

Jason Schwartzman: Max Fischer
Bill Murray: Herman Blume
Olivia Williams: Rosemary Cross
Seymour Cassel: Bert Fischer
Brain Cox: Dr. Guggenheim

Produced by Wes Anderson, John Cameron, Barry Mendell, Paul Sciff and Owen Wilson; Directed by Wes Anderson; Screenwritten by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

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Written by DAVID KEYES

The Wes Anderson film infamously known as "Rushmore" is not one of those Bill Murray comedies saturated with jolly humor, but one overblown with despicable and unfunny plot twists which create the illusion that audience members are seeing something worthwhile. It creeps around on the screen like rats behind the wall of a kitchen, and is soaked with situations that make you feel unamused, depressed, and even woeful. The movement of the story is enough to make any person dislike it, or for that matter, find it stupid and pointless. Seeing it after Premiere Magazine named it the best film of 1998, it is uneven and distraught from desire to achieve greatness. There's no question to whether or not the filmmakers strive to entertain, but they neither allow the characters nor the audience to experience laughter the way it should be experienced. It's a tremendously bad movie, not because of its greatly influencing cast, but because of its numerous script shortcomings. All will probably be forgotten by the time Bill Murray steps back into the spotlight.

The project has a certain arrogance with the toleration of life. We at first meet a Rushmore academy student Max Fischer, played by Jason Schwartzman, a popular kid who is certainly not famed for his academic skills. This is a guy who is practically the president of every club that existed inside the continental United States, and yet he somehow manages to dig his academic effort so far into a hole that the principal places him on "sudden death probation," in which his scholarship will be ripped from him if he fails 'one more test.'

Then enters Bill Murray, who plays a Rushmore alumnus that becomes amused by Max's company, and finds a fast friendship with him. On screen, they work together to the best advantage possible, but it's not like any of that matters, really, since, shortly afterwards, the script creates a situation that turns them both into rivals for the same woman. They fall in love with a first grade teacher. Max doesn't quite grasp the notion that this woman is too old for him, and she has no interest in a relationship, though. He becomes so obsessed with her, I am reminded of one of those love stories in which the man stalks his prey until she either gives in or is dead. When Max learns that his newly found friend is getting to first-base with his 'crush,' this academy student becomes the human chain-saw. Of course, the script never gets to the point where Max is completely ruthless, but it wants to.

Everything from there is more or less a rivalry for the teacher's affections. A use of gimmicks, tricks, and plot situations create a climax so disheartening and so dumb, it makes the viewer realize that 93 minutes of their life has gone down the drain. Max sometimes gets so malicious, we don't want to tolerate one more minute of him. Meanwhile, the other characters begin to show signs of containing the same cruel characteristics as Max, although the writers never allow us to fully investigate their personalities. It's not funny, not amusing, and strangely enough, not the least bit original as it is made out to be.

Writer Owen Wilson likes to furnish the characters with a fascinating treatment (he pays close attention to some of the most intriguing minor details), but he swirls them into a story that comes off as a huge disappointment. When we are sure that it doesn't have a negotiable payoff, we aren't allowed to appreciate the characters either. Critics obviously loved it for its strong performances, but was it possible that they found this story and setup suitable for the way the characters were written? I do not know, nor do I care.

After the film ended, some members of the audience discussed the similarities of this movie to those of "The Graduate," mainly in which Jason Schwartzman resembles a young Dustin Hoffman. Alas, there's no definite similarities between that movie and this other than its main characters. Comparing one to the other is like comparing pees to green beans. Both look the same, but only one of them is worth devouring.

1999, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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