October 1998
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RUSHMORE (R)

Wes Anderson's second film is an oddly original coming-of-age story about Max (Jason Schwartzman), an eccentric teenager who ambitiously participates in almost every extra-curricular activity in existence. This, in turn, causes his grades to suffer and threatens his existence at the school. Max's life begins to change upon meeting two people: a rich businessman (Bill Murray) and a beautiful school teacher (Olivia Williams). He befriends the former and develops an obsessive crush on the latter. Rushmore is a very funny and inventive new spin on the coming-of-age film. Max's world and the people that populate it are quite original -- especially Max who is a creative, albeit misguided, genius able to adapt Serpico (1973) into a high school play. Jason Schwartzman does an incredible job of transforming Max into something more than a goofy caricature. His performance runs the whole spectrum of emotions -- an incredible achievement for his debut film role. Bill Murray's appearance in this film is also a surprising revelation. Murray never mugs for the camera but instead creates a very subtle, nuanced performance that is hilarious and also quite tragic at times. Rushmore is an impressive improvement on Anderson's debut film, Bottle Rocket (1996). With a killer soundtrack of obscure '60s British Invasion rock 'n' roll music, Rushmore is often touching without being too sappy and funny without being too obvious. One of the year's best films by far.

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