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Repeated Viewings of Rushmore Made High School a Little Easier to Tolerate
After my first viewing of Rushmore, I was a little puzzled as to why I enjoyed it so much. I was wonder struck by the whimsical direction by Wes Anderson, the genuine and heartfelt performances by Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Olivia Williams, and the bizarre yet warm screenplay written by Wes and his college companion, Owen Wilson. However, after the credits rolled and "Ooh La La" by the Faces (the soundtrack also won me over) slowly faded out, my perception of why the film was so emotionally compelling was unclear.
I watched Rushmore for the first time during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. It was ideal timing, as the film opens with the protagonist, Max Fischer, entering his sophomore year at the esteemed Rushmore Academy. Max is a precocious, clever, somewhat of a wunderkind fifteen year old. However, as you find out in the opening of the film after his fantasy of "solving the hardest geometry equation in the world," we learn that the Rushmore Yankee isn't the brightest student at the academy. In fact, the only reason he is able to keep attending Rushmore with his failing grades is because he joins almost every club Rushmore has to offer -- and in most cases, is the president, captain, or leader of a majority of those extracurricular activities.
After analyzing Max, I began to recognize why "Rushmore" was so effective for me, to the point that I established it as my all time favorite movie. Max is the most identifiable character in any film that I have ever encountered in any of the films I have ever seen (even though I'm young, I've seen a lot of them). Max is an outcast, a social reject. He does poorly in math, has the gusto to write, produce and direct school plays ("I WROTE A HIT PLAY!!!"), and is, in some measure, a compulsive liar. He is a lot like me. This has become more true as I grow older and am placed into harder math classes. He dresses unlike his classmates (sporting a blazer with a Rushmore emblem, the only one in the crowd to don one), and talks with a pompous, almost pontifical vocabulary. One of his attributes that I most related with is his apprehension about the future. I have never identified better with a film character before I witnessed the fanciful world of Max Fischer.
I know this review is more of an analysis of the main character, but I would only feel guilty to give more of the plot away of this terrific gem. I think even as I grow older, even older than Max himself, I will still look up to his high self esteem and exuberance to take on the impossible. In high school, it is easy to be without these characteristics. But only after repeated viewings of Rushmore, and learning lessons from my favorite movie character of all time, Max Fischer, I feel more and more as if I am watching a film that was written about me. I secure great comfort in knowing that, in the end, I will triumph just like Max.