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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Rushmore (1998)



Reviews and Comments

Rushmore is sort of a cult movie in the sense that it appeals very strongly to a relatively small sect of the movie going audience. But it call it a cult movie is somewhat misleading, as the particular sect that it appeals to is quite different from the sect that is usually responsible for the notoreity of so-called cult films.

I'm not a member of that sect either, apparently. Rushmore is touted as having an intelligent script. That claim in itself is probably true. The script exhibits an intelligence and perception on the part of its authors. The problem is, that intelligence does not seem to be directed toward a purposeful goal, or at least if it is, there is little success. It's also severely flawed. It wants to be a black comedy and figures out how to get the dark part of the genre. It fails, however, to be funny, except in rare instances, because it miscalculates when and where it should pull its punches and when it should punch hard with no mercy. A great black comedy should make you laugh, make you realize that you shouldn't and should feel guilty for doing so, and yet make you blissfully uncaring for that lack of guilt. Rushmore just made me feel sickened. The question of guilt never came up, because it didn't get the "laugh" part right.

So it fails as a black comedy; it fails, too, at telling a story worth caring about. It succeeds as a multiple character portrait, and the acting is quite good, but it's wasted effort. These are supposed to be unlikeable characters, but they're not the kind you love to hate, they're the kind you hate to hate.

It feels like I am being too hard on the movie. It did have some fine acting, and the script is not completely without merit. Nonetheless, it made me feel queasy and unpleasant, without the compensating rewards a movie designed to do just that should also provide; therefore, it becomes understandably difficult to cut it any slack.