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Rushmore

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 02/27/99 01:19:45

"Expectation is a devious bastard."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

This movie is certainly something different. The characters, the dialogue, the production itself, these things all contribute to creating a style that would be tough to replicate, but is it enough?

Depends on your sensibilities.

Max Fischer is a career high school kid. He's head of every club, the leader of the pack, everything runs through his enthusiasm. But when he goes too far and destroys the school baseball diamond in an effort to build an aquarium building for a teacher he has a crush on... bah. The story is too complex to take further.

Rushmore is packed with humour, but it's subtle in the extreme. There's no traditional 'ba dump bump' punchlines, no slapstick, no 'funniest home videos' style laughs via violence. Rushmore knows that sometimes the real giggles isn't in the punchline, but what leads up to it. It's a comedic "where's wally". You have to hunt down the fun, you have to appreciate the ironic, and you find yourself amidst absurd situations that you didn't see coming.

But while the smarts behind this movie are obvious, the question remains "is it funny?"

Kinda. The major problem with Rushmore is that, unlike the earlier Anderson/Wilson film Bottle Rocket, this movie tries too hard to find a reason for being. It starts out absurd, original and bizarre, but ends up just absurd. The love triangle behind it all just cludges up proceedings.

Basically, Rushmore takes itself too seriously once it hits halfway. This might not be the fault of the filmmakers. Where on the smaller Bottle Rocket they could be as bizarro as they felt appropriate, they're dealing with budgets now, and the requisite studio yes-men who actually mean no.

Watching Rushmore I got the impression it could have been and was originally intended to be something different to the end product. The delayed release lends more credibility to that theory, as it was originally slated for release around October 1998.

It must be said, Bottle Rocket is amongst my all time favourite films. My annoyance in Rushmore isn't that it is awful, it's that Rushmore is not the masterpiece I hoped it would be.

But despite the disappointment that this wasn't the classic of our time, it was still an impressive outing. Money well spent and time not wasted. Enjoy it, then go rent Bottle Rocket. You'll see what could have been.

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