1998, Movie, R, 95 mins


Another quirky, hard-to-put-your-finger-on delight from the boys who brought us BOTTLE ROCKET. Geeky 15-year-old Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) has cornered the market on extracurricular activities at snooty Rushmore Academy, though he's flunking out academically. And he's got a crush on first-grade teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams), whom he pursues with predictable relentlessness. The consummate multi-tasker, Max embraces, ingests, condescends, comprehends and fails to comprehend with incredible ardor. Yet despite the scattered, frantic quality to Max's pursuit of everything -- courting Miss Cross; writing plays based on seminal '70s films like SERPICO, THE DEERHUNTER and APOCALYPSE NOW; engaging in endless activities, from kite-flying to chess club -- he's irresistible. He hasn't lived through his first heartbreak, hasn't suffered adult disappointment and doesn't know the meaning of passivity: He's bursting with a deep enthusiasm for life. Max schemes to impress Miss Cross by building her an elaborate aquarium, but he needs steel tycoon/school patron Mr. Blume (Bill Murray) to pay for it. Blume, tired of his family, his job and life itself, needs someone like Max around and lets the youngster go to town. And Max happily plans activities that bring together his two favorite people, never dreaming that Cross and Blume will begin a relationship. Without being slavish, Owen Wilson and director Wes Anderson's subtle and witty script echoes the themes (and sometimes the look) of Hal Ashby's best films, including HAROLD AND MAUDE and BEING THERE. And Anderson's mise en scene -- heavy on the '70s influences and bolstered by the combination of Mark Mothersbaugh's excellent score and the British Invasion soundtrack -- captures the wistful nature of Max's teenage tumult and outsider's ebullience. A rare comedy that keeps you thinking long after its plot machinations have played themselves out, this film is the product of artists working at the peak of their powers: Let's hope they keep it up. leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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