Rushmore (1998)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age  |   Release Date - Dec 11, 1998 (USA - Limited), Feb 19, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Defying slick 1990s teen-flick clich├ęs, Rushmore (1998) is a humorously deadpan, emotionally sincere coming-of-age story. Though set in the 1990s, writer/director Wes Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson evoke a 1960s and '70s spirit of unabashed iconoclasm and eccentricity, complete with a '60s British Invasion soundtrack; Max Fischer is a non-suicidal Harold Chasen crossed with an ambitious Benjamin Braddock. Anderson, Wilson, and novice actor (and Francis Ford Coppola nephew) Jason Schwartzman dare to make Max a self-assured nerd and a wrong-side-of-the-tracks prodigy who is never simperingly likable even as he succeeds in charming friends and enemies. Along with Max's comically zealous, film-literate stage productions of Serpico and the Vietnam War, Anderson's astute widescreen compositions, film-speed shifts, and camera movements similarly recall French and American New Wave vitality. Among the excellent cast, Bill Murray gives a career-best performance as the despondent tycoon who sees a kindred spirit in the bespectacled teen, exuding genuine sadness about his life while he goes mano a mano with Max for teacher Olivia Williams' affection. Earning high marks for wit and originality (but sadly no Oscar nomination for Murray), Rushmore served notice that the creators of cult favorite Bottle Rocket (1996) had truly arrived.