Plot: What’s it about?
Meet Max Fisher (Jason Schwartzman), he’s your average high school kid. Well, maybe not. He dreams of solving impossible geometry problems but in reality he’s flunking out of school. Max is the appitomy of an underachiever. He has either created, been president or vice-president, or a member of every extra curricular activity that the Rushmore school has to offer. The result—bad grades. Now Max is smart, that’s a given, he’s just misguided and young. It’s not many 15 year olds that write and direct plays, not many at all. Aside from failing out of school, which barely motivates him to study, Max’s dream is what he’s living. He absolutely loves the school he’s at (Rushmore), as he couldn’t afford it otherwise. He tells everyone that his father is a neurosurgeon, but in reality he’s a barber. Sadly, we learn that Max has lost his mother to cancer 10 years earlier. Enter Mrs. Cross (Olivia Williams), an attractive Harvard graduate who is now a Kindergarten teacher at Rushmore. Max bumps into her while he was trying to track down who had written in a library book that he was reading. This is just the type of person that he is, once he gets mind set on something, or the tiniest detail is out of whack; he makes it his mission in life to solve the problem. This doesn’t work so well in the case of Mrs. Cross. The two become friends, but it’s evident that Max wants to become moreso. Obviously, this will not work as Mrs. Cross (I’ll call her Rosemary from now on) is nearly double his age. Actually she might be more than that, it never really says. It turns out that Rosemary’s husband had died the last year, and he was a student at Rushmore, that’s why she teaches there. It’s obvious that she hasn’t comepletely let it all go, as she sleeps in his room and still has very deep sentimental attachments to all of his things. Among all this chaos is Bill Murray’s character, Herman Blume. Herman is also a Rushmore graduate, who is now a very successful, wealthy steel tycoon. His marraige is on the rocks, he hates his two annoying kids and also starts to fall for Rosemary (all while trying to discourage Max from pursuing her). Things escalate between Herman and Max, and it comes to a knock down-drag out between the two. They play childish pranks on each other, such as cutting brake lines in cars and running over ten speeds, and this ultimately draws Rosemary away from both of them. While all this is going on, Max has been expelled from Rushmore and is now attending Grover Cleveland public high school. But it doesn’t take long at all for him to gather a group of closely follwing friends and Max is writing plays and trying to start a fencing team amid basketball practice. To tell any more would be to give away the ending, and I don’t want to do that. Let me just say that this is one of the wittiest, cleverly made and written movies that I’ve seen in a long time. Writing credits are the same as director Wes Anderson’s earlier flick, Bottle Rocket. Owen Wilson (the guy from Anaconda, Armageddon and The Haunting) was a co-writer on this as well as Bottle Rocket. The two (Wilson and Anderson) make one heck of a team, and I wouldn’t be suprised to see yet another collaboration between the two. I can’t recommend this movie enough!
Video: How does it look?
I compared this movie to the earlier release by Disney and there is a noticeable impovement in picture. The new Criterion release is 16:9 enhanced and the 2.35:1 image looks spectacular! I couldn’t find a hint of grain, artifacting or any elements whatsoever. Now granted, this movie isn’t one that showcases the picture with a lot of bright, flashy colors, but it’s always nice to have a crystal clear picture that really shows what a DVD should look like.
Audio: How does it sound?
Much to my suprise the second time around, the audio is awesome. The ending scene of Max’s play is one I’ll put up against Starship Troopers or The Matrix any day. The bass didn’t stop it’s “thumping”! Throughout the movie, surround effects are prevelant and of course, the dialogue is clean and not muddled at all. High marks here as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This being a Criterion disc, it’s bound to have extras galore…and it does! I think we’ve been somewhat spoiled by the likes of Warner, Columbia Tristar and Universal who put out special editions that have nearly as much (or more) supplemental material that Criterion discs. Criterion laserdiscs used to be the creme de la creme of what a movie could be, now they’re just trying to keep up with titles like The Matrix and American Pie. Anyway, you get a commentary with Director Wes Anderson, writer Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman ( Max), original storyboards, Max Fischer Players Present: Theatrical adaptations of Armageddon, The Truman Show, and Out of Sight staged especially for the 1999 MTV Movie Awards (these are cool) posters, a map of locations that Rushmore events occured in, trailers…I can go on and on… Needless to say, you get your money’s worth. This brings me to my only negative point here, with DVD’s like The Matrix and American Pie selling for 10-15 dollars cheaper, Criterion might want to rethink their pricing scheme. True, this movie can be found at Amazon for $23.99, but it’s a matter of principle. Overall, this is one disc you have to check out, and I recommend you buy.