Before leaving for work this morning, I watched the movie Rushmore (Criterion Collection version). After seeing Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson's other collaboration—The Royal Tenenbaums (IMDB entry)—I was expecting the worst. Visually, the two movies share much in common: interesting camera angles, brisk pacing, textual overlays, and the overall look.
As far as plot goes, the two couldn't be more different. The Royal Tenenbaums was one of those utterly pointless movies that left you wishing you had the previous hour and a half of your life back, like Thelma and Louise or Bulworth. I never felt any identification with the characters in that movie and the plot-line was meandering to the point of dullness. Rushmore, on the other hand, was funny, clever, and intelligent. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the movie had a larger theme or point to make, but it was definitely entertaining and captivating.
The movie relates the story of Max Fischer, a fifteen-year-old student at the prestigious Rushmore Academy, during a crucial turning point in his life. This transition sees him expelled from the school he has tied his identity to and the awkwardness of he and his friend falling for the same woman. The rest of the movie consists of him trying to regain his bearings as he enters a public high school, loses the woman, loses his best friend, and drops out of said high school. Roger Ebert describes the film's plot masterfully, but misses the fact that it's a coming-of-age movie la Stand By Me and doesn't have to stretch its naturalistic shell—though it certainly could have made some larger points.
Overall, the movie was interesting and well-crafted. I liked the visual feel of the movie and especially the character development of Max. Bill Murray plays his character—Max's older, millionaire friend that falls in love with his love interest—impeccably and really stood out in the movie. The ending was positive—though bereft of significance—and left me with a sense of optimism. It's certainly not a perfect movie, but I think it's worth purchasing and would hold up to repeat viewings.