Rushmore: Why I Don't Trust Prep School Kids

The next film on our list is the Wes Anderson comedy Rushmore, starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. Despite my suspicion and almost universal dislike of hipsters, I have to admit to liking both Wes Anderson and his films.  So there it is.

Max Fischer is an odd bird.  He's a scholarship student at a prestigious prep school, who also happens to be the founding member of just about every organization imaginable, from the Cabertossing team to the Gobstones Club.  I seriously wish I was exaggerating.  He's wise beyond his years, failing every class he takes, and is hopelessly in love with an elementary school teacher.  Oh, and his best friend is a disgruntled millionaire played by Bill Murray.  Yes, this is definitely a Wes Anderson film.

But the shit really hits the fan for Max when his feelings for Mrs Cross make him act like a crazy person.  After an explosive dinner where he is super rude to her date, he tries to win Mrs Cross back by inviting her to the ground breaking ceremony of his aquarium.  A construction project that he seems to have conjured out of thin air, and has absolutely zero permission for.

Long story short, Max is expelled from Rushmore and sent off to the dread public school, Grover Cleveland High School.  I think wow, could they have picked a more boring president to name a high school after, while Max laments the lack of a fencing team at his new alma mater.  Regardless, Max does pretty well at his new school, and is even back on speaking terms with Mrs Cross.  The only problem?  Bill Murray is now in love with her.  And thus begins the most awkward love triangle ever.

Random Musings:

  • "For some of you it doesn't matter.  You were born rich and you're going to stay rich.  But here's my advice to the rest of you: take dead aim on the rich boys.  Get them in the crosshairs and take them down.  Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone.  Don't let them forget it."  Best chapel speaker ever.

  • I love the high school wrestling team.  So very homoerotic.

  • How in the name of all that is holy did I never even think of starting a Bombardment Society when I was at school?

I think I just found my deathbed regret.

  • I love that Max's school play is a gritty crime drama, and that somehow there's a little boy dressed as a nun and a wire tap involved.  And did they seriously build a working replica of an L train?

  • "These are OR scrubs." "Oh are they?" A wonderful exchange in what is probably the most awkward dinner I've ever experienced.  And I've been to a Christmas dinner that doubled as a divorce announcement.

  • Max, there's a lot of ways to fit in at a public school.  Making a speech in class about having a silver spoon in your mouth and wanting to start a fencing club?  I cannot stress enough how much that really isn't a good start.

  • What is with the random Scottish guy?  He could not be more straight off the boat if he was wearing a kilt and singing I'll Go Home to Bonnie Jean.

  • Max, you did not just write a high school play with the n-word in it.  Look, as a privileged white male, the list of things you're straight up not allowed to do is fairly short, but that is definitely on it.

  • Jesus his weird little friend is scary.  But I love that he writes a serious, detailed letter about adultery in crayon.  Is he seven?

  • I think I just learned a valuable life lesson.  Don't fuck with Max Fischer.  Because that dude will tell your wife you're cheating on her and fill your hotel room with bees.  Then for an encore, he'll cut the brake line on your car.  He makes Carrie seem like a reasonable and well-adjusted teenager.

  • I do love the totally nonchalant way Bill Murray runs over Max's bike though.  Classic.

  • "She's my Rushmore, Max."  I couldn't tell you why, but that's probably my single favorite line out of any Wes Anderson film.

  • Max showed up at Mrs Cross' house covering in fake blood, claiming to have been hit by a car?  This kid is a full-on sociopath!

  • OMG Max just go with the nice cute Asian girl that likes you and is almost as strange and off-putting as you are!

  • So he's got his teeney tiny little friend playing a sergeant in what I assume is the Vietnam War.  Just so we're clear, is he trying to make a statement about young soldiers looking like little boys?  Or is this like the time that my high school did a production of The Hobbit, but we didn't have enough boys so the dwarves were really freshmen girls in beards?

I enjoy Rushmore.  It's a weird little movie made for weird little people, and I like that about it.  Rushmore is probably my least favorite Wes Anderson film (that I've seen anyway), but that's largely because of the high esteem in which I regard The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr Fox.  It's like saying Giant is my least favorite James Dean movie.  Losing to Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden isn't really losing.

Anyway, I think there are movies out there that are better paced and better written, and while there are some really great moments, the piece as a whole doesn't gel for me as well as I think it could.  But the performances of Jason Schwartzman (another one of the Coppola nepotistic brats) and Bill Murray really elevate the material.

Thanks for reading, and come back next time for The Black Cat!

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