It is mesmerizing to watch someone so caught up in his obsessions that he has not a whit of an idea that he is driving everyone around him crazy.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Rushmore" bursts with imagination. Settling only for the outrageous, Director Wes Anderson spins a shaggy-dog story into a visual delight. Led by inspired casting in the starring role, all the actors conspire to make this a funny, poignant tale.

Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a tenth-grade student at Rushmore Academy. He is also an Anglophile who wants early decision from Oxford, with Harvard as his back-up. He offers an enviable record: editor of the school paper and yearbook, president of the French, German, chess, and astronomy clubs. He captains the debate and fencing teams and boasts a string of directing and acting credits, including a play about Watergate that he directed as a second grader.

This sublime operator, this con man in a blue blazer, who wears a beeper on his crossing-guard strap, is also on sudden-death probation because of his abysmal academic record. Max is just too busy to study. He's in the business of starting clubs and staging plays. He is also in love with the new first-grade teacher, Miss Cross (Olivia Williams).

Always looking for a new crowning glory, 15-year-old Max decides to build an aquarium at the school in honor of Miss Cross. For financing, he goes to Mr. Blume (Bill Murray), the shy major benefactor of the school, who agrees to provide seed money for the project and then promptly falls in love with Miss Cross himself. The kindly Blume is open to whatever might change his empty life. In walks Max, loaded with ideas and the one thing Blume's money can't buy: panache. The unlikely friendship takes firm root.

As a character, Max is an amazing creation. It's possible that only Jason Schwartzman could have brought this driven young fellow to such full-blown life. It is mesmerizing to watch someone so caught up in his obsessions that he has not a whit of an idea that he is driving everyone around him crazy. It's the solemnity of Max's determination that is so endearing, and it is that quality that is Jason Schwartzman's gift to the role.

He and Bill Murray, who gives a controlled and touching performance as Mr. Blume, create a marvelous two-way friendship. Olivia Williams's Miss Cross is just right as the British object of the rivals' affections, and Seymour Cassell makes a fine father to his eccentric son.

In an explosion of passion, Max recreates the Vietnam War on the school stage. It's the effort of a human being possessed, a young man who will write plays forever simply because he has to. If you want an extra smile as you watch this fine movie, think of the 29-year-old director, Wes Anderson, who filmed on location at his old school. As an early disciplinary problem himself, Anderson was told by his teacher that for every two weeks he behaved himself, he could put on a play. Like Max, he had no choice.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 493
Studio : Touchstone
Rating : R
Running time : 1h33m

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