By Joe Lozito
Two Gentlemen from "Rushmore"
"Rushmore" could have very easily been a dull film. It doesn't have much of a plot: a 15-year old and a tycoon vie for the affection of a beautiful first-grade teacher. But "Bottle Rocket" director Wes Anderson creates such a thoroughly interesting set of characters at Rushmore Academy - an upper-class private school - and keeps the dialogue fast-paced and original, that it just becomes fun watching the characters interact.
Director Anderson has also elicited some fine performances from his actors - perhaps most notably Bill Murray, somehow fitting perfectly into the role of the cynical self-made millionaire with one piece of advice for the youth of his alma mater: "Target the rich and take them down". Young Jason Schwartzman gives Max Fischer enough wit while still retaining the stubborn know-it-all attitude of a 15 year-old.
Rarely are adolescents written as sharply as this. Mr. Anderson has captured the longing for something to call your own that exists, not just in teenagers, but in adults alike. Max and his rival are both in stages of their lives where they need a goal of some kind. It is easy to see why these two eccentrics both take a shine to Olivia Williams's first-grade teacher, who comes off like the Elizabeth Hurley next door.
It's nice to see that there are still comedies out there that don't need to resort to gross-out humor for a laugh. In the end, nothing much happens in "Rushmore", Max is still up to his old tricks in the film's finale, but at least he's good at it.