“The secret… I don’t know. I guess you’ve just gotta find something you love to do and then… do it for the rest of your life.”
There’s an undeniable magic quality to Wes Anderson’s work. Of all the contemporary directors, I would say Anderson is among Edgar Wright as one of the most playful. There’s always this sense that a Wes Anderson film can do no harm. It’s a fun journey with sympathetic characters and a real sense of joy by the time we reach the end of it all. Rushmore, the film that catapulted Anderson into real acclaim, exemplifies this spirit perfectly. It’s a fantastic, hilarious work of cinema that anyone can appreciate.
One thing that always impresses me about Anderson is his casting ability. He always seems to find this ambitious group of talented actors that really understand the style of the film. An Anderson script in the wrong hands would be a catastrophe, but there’s a comedic vision to films like Rushmore that require dedication from everyone involved to achieve this playful style. In this case, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray deliver spot on performances as teenager Max Fischer and millionaire Herman Blume. They play off each other in a hilarious, intricate relationship that carries the film to success. However, even the smallest parts in the film are memorable, as they all contribute to this heartfelt humor for which Anderson has become so well known.
Most will prefer Grand Budapest Hotel or Moonrise Kingdom to this earlier work, but I find that Rushmore achieves victories on a lot of levels that these other movies don’t seem the manage. All of these films are about the same short length, but Rushmore feels like the tightest script. The story leaves you wanting more of these characters. I think Anderson, unlike many of his contemporaries, refuses to overstep his welcome. Rushmore feels like it was trimmed excessively for 90 minutes of perfect footage. Every scene contributes to plot and has its hilarious moments, whereas Anderson’s other works may have a bit more “artistic excess” as I’ll call it.
This is a film that I feel really set the groundwork for what an independent movie would look like moving into the 21st century. There are a lot of tropes introduced in Rushmore that have been copied but never improved upon in later years. Some of these include the eccentric child protagonist, the text overlays for exposition, the quirky soundtrack, and a sense of heartfelt, offbeat humor. Countless indie flicks have used these same techniques in recent years, but they really made their way into prominence with Rushmore, a testament to Anderson’s innovation as a director.
Ultimately, Rushmore is a movie with heart, which has helped it become a cult favorite for many. This is a coming-of-age story that hits close to home for many viewers for its sympathetic characters and ultimately optimistic message about finding individuality and moving towards the future. All of this is accomplished with witty dialogue and a hilarious touch of offbeat comedy. There’s hardly a cliché in sight when it comes to Rushmore and its story. Rather, there’s a clear creative vision with a strong execution behind it: the recipe for heartfelt film. It’s an inspiring work of cinematography that seems to prove the notion that directors with talent will find the success they deserve. Props to you, Mr. Anderson.
Films Left to Watch: 979