Max Fischer: Extra Curricular Activities Organiser
As of writing Wes Anderson's Rushmore has a score of 7.7 on imdb and 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, that's not a bad score. The trouble is that I disagree I don't think it's nearly anywhere near as good as these scores suggest, but then I am one of those people who whilst acknowledge that as a director and writer Wes Anderson is different don't always get his movies. And that is the thing about "Rushmore" it is typically Wes Anderson, quirky, offbeat and at times strange and I just didn't connect with it at all.
15 year old Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman - Funny People) got into the prestigious Rushmore on a scholarship, but his extra curricular activities such as running the bee keeping society and producing plays has started to affect his grades. Put on sudden death academic probation he cannot fail anymore classes or is out. At the same time he meets teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams - Tara Road) and becomes infatuated by her, but unfortunately for him she doesn't feel the same way about the precocious young student. And to make matters doubly worse, having become friends of parent Herman Blume (Bill Murray) makes the mistake of introducing him to Rosemary and is instantly attracted to her.
Now to me "Rushmore" is a movie of 3 parts with the first part giving us something similar to "Van Wilder" but Wes Anderson's take. By that I mean we have the story of Max Fischer, a gifted student whose extra curricular activities means he is failing academically and unless he improves he will be booted out of school. But there are differences because those extra curricular activities revolve around harmless school clubs rather than partying and instead of trying to improve Max looks at ways to circumvent the threat of expulsion through debate and alliances. It is a fun twist on a routine high school/ college story and the quirkiness of Max being in to all these clubs and having a young student as his assistant is amusing.
But then it develops with Max falling in love with teacher Rosemary Cross and acting like a typical naive and jealous boyfriend when she makes it clear the feelings aren't reciprocated. And to make matters worse Max's friend, parent Herman Blume meets Rosemary and falls for her himself leading to issues between these two friends, these two quirky characters. And so we get the amusement of Max trying to sabotage Herman's life when he discovers this betrayal from his friend.
Now if that was all there was to "Rushmore" it would be a quirky take on a couple of routine ideas and would have been enjoyable as such. But there is a third act to this movie and a third act which goes past the point of being quirky to just strange. I won't reveal any details other than to stay Max's skills for directing school plays comes to the fore in a very strange scene, which is just one of many. Maybe some saw the sense in this third act, they revelled in its difference to the norm but for me it became too strange.
The annoyance of this is that whilst I ended up not getting or really enjoying "Rushmore" it's impossible not to be impressed by Anderson's style. Various camera techniques, the offbeat humour, the soundtrack as well as the characters it all combines to create a very different feeling movie. Yes sometimes it is too different to really understand but it certainly draws you in visually.
And to be honest the performances also draw you in be it Jason Schwartzman as the quirky Max or Bill Murray as Herman. In fact the humour of these two performances are a big reason why I suggest people watch "Rushmore" because they are funny with out being extreme or obvious. And whilst she probably plays the most normal character in the entire movie Olivia Williams is just as good as Rosemary Cross.
What this all boils down to is that visually "Rushmore" is entertaining but at times seems a little too strange and quirky which ends up spoiling the entertainment. Maybe some connect with it more, appreciate the strangeness of the third act but for me it's just a little too strange.