Touchstone Pictures // 1998 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // July 2nd, 1999
All's fair when love is war.
Rushmore is an extremely odd film that you, literally, either love or hate. Despite this, Buena Vista's DVD treatment of Rushmore is nothing to love, just typical product cranked out by the Mouse.
I'll warn everyone right now, I did not like Rushmore. If you think this film is brilliant and the best film of 1998, feel free to stop reading this review; immediately. I admit, Rushmore is very unique and stylistic, but it's just something I didn't understand or enjoy.
As for the story of this film, like any summary could explain exactly what goes on during this film, it is the story of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman). Max is a student of Rushmore Academy, one of the nation's best students. With a barber for a father, Max was admitted to Rushmore on a scholarship for writing a play. One of Max's most notable talents is writing and directing plays, but besides this he is also the president and founder of many societies at Rushmore (including the "Yankee Racers," a Go-cart racing club, and the "Bombardment Society," which involves playing dodgeball). Because of Max's numerous extracurricular activities his grades slip and he is in danger of being expelled from Rushmore Academy. To complicate things, Max falls in love with a 1st grade teacher at Rushmore, Ms. Cross (Olivia Williams). Max ends up introducing his friend, and steel tycoon, Herman Blume (Bill Murray) to Ms. Cross and the two end up falling in love with each other, leaving Max in their wake. Betrayed by his friend, Max declares war on Blume, and the chaos ensues.
Murray's performance in this film was good (nowhere near Oscar quality though) and some of the few laughs I had during this film came directly out of Murray's performance. As I said before, the film is very stylistic and directed in a brilliant manner by Wes Anderson. I might not like Rushmore but I can recognize when someone takes a new approach to movies, even if I don't understand it.
Then there is the DVD...surprise, surprise. I'm getting a little tried of writing these reviews because in the disc section they're always the same. I should just make up an individual page called "Standard Buena Vista Fare" which will detail the image and audio quality. The video is presented in 2.35:1 (non-anamorphic) widescreen and looks nice and sharp. The audio is suitable for the film, which doesn't really lend itself to a 5.1 track, but still is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. I can't recall a single surround effect in the film, as surrounds were used basically for background noise. Then we have the standard Buena Vista extra content -- a trailer. Wow.
Wait! I almost forgot, there is one more extra feature on this disc! Yes, included on the DVD, along with the trailer, there are film recommendations! Yes, if you enjoyed Rushmore, pick up these other "quality" Buena Vista titles. Well, I guess as long Buena Vista is getting some promotion out of an extra feature they have no trouble adding it.
All right, time for me to tear into Rushmore. I know this is not going to sit well with a lot of people who loved this film, but I can't help it. I saw this film twice, excruciatingly painful for me, just to see if there was anything I was missing...any last moment of wisdom that made the entire movie make sense. People have said the real comedy of this film is in the characterization. Personally, I find nothing funny about a 15 year old acting more sophisticated than he really is; heck, most 15 year olds do. No matter what age you are, you always feel more sophisticated than you were before, and at your highest level of intelligence yet. I guess Max Fischer is just the epitome of this.
Bill Murray as an unhappy millionaire is almost tragic...and for some reason I can't deal with comedies that walk a fine line between comedic and tragedy. Nothing tragic is comedic to me, nor is anything I consider comedic near any form of tragedy. In addition to this, the battle for Ms. Cross was anything but funny for me. First of all, if you've seen any trailer for this film, you've seen just about everything that goes on in this "battle" and the small laughs have already been had.
I can't put my finger on what it is that people love about Rushmore, and what I don't, but I know I really dislike this film. Rushmore is a true oddity.
Now I guess I should turn back and berate Buena Vista, yet again. The video transfer should be anamorphic, and a director's commentary on this film would probably greatly help me to understand it better (or at least understand what they were trying to do with this film). People have been saying this since Buena Vista began producing DVDs, so they obviously aren't listening. Hopefully, with new leadership in the home video division, Buena Vista can finally get its act together and produce some worthwhile discs.
Love it or hate it, Rushmore can only be classified as Rushmore, and this DVD presents the film in its most basic form with practically no extra content.
Buena Vista sentenced to life imprisonment for making me write another review about their weak support for DVD. Wes Anderson is sentenced to five years parole, in which time he should provide some sort of explanation for this film, because I just don't get it.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailer