November 29, 2011

Movie Rating: 9/10  BD Rating: 8/10

Even though Wes Anderson’s offbeat, deadpan comedic style has become a little too familiar, there’s still something enchanting about watching his 1998 breakthrough hit, Rushmore. Maybe it’s the fact that his protagonist, Max Fischer, is so perfectly portrayed by a baby-faced, 18-year-old Jason Schwartzman. He's is the ultimate embodiment of the typical Andersonian male character: egotistical, precocious, slightly delusional and, for the most part, charming.

Rushmore follows Max, a 15-year-old aspiring renaissance man, as he attempts to take over his school, Rushmore Academy, and ingratiate himself with a wealthy tycoon (played by an equally fabulous Bill Murray). Max's Rushmore days are numbered when he makes plans to build an aquarium on school grounds in order to impress his crush, a widowed kindergarten teacher several years his senior. In many ways a timeless coming-of-age tale, Rushmore is genuinely funny, unique and far from sappy. And though the film is anything but autobiographical, the feeling of sincerity that pervades it is certainly thanks to co-writers Anderson and Owen Wilson, who fill the screenplay with references to their own experiences—Wilson was expelled from school when he was fifteen—and favourite films.

Like nearly every Criterion release, this one is packed to the gills with featurettes, interviews and commentaries—unfortunately, these are all holdovers from their previous DVD released from 2000. One highlight is a series of spots created for the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, in which the Max Fischer players perform their own shoestring budget, on-stage versions of the year’s popular movies (The Truman Show, Out of Sight and Armageddon). A new commentary with Schwartzman or Anderson would’ve really sweetened the deal, but the sharp new transfer makes up for the lack of new material, and makes it an upgrade worth shelling out for. —Jackie McClelland