By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Quirky '90s comedy has profanity, sex, underage drinking.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's important to apologize and to forgive. Artists should be given leeway for their personality flaws. Friendships can survive betrayal and other conflicts if people care enough. People who are not meant to be together romantically can sometimes still be friends.
Positive Role Models
Max is an annoying, lying, condescending, pushy, arrogant, and manipulative 15-year-old with unrealistic expectations who is also smart enough to learn quickly from his mistakes and turn himself around. His metamorphosis from self-centered go-getter to a kinder egomaniac with executive capabilities epitomizes the movie's theme: the making of an artist is a messy business. Bert is a loving and encouraging parent. Herman is a supportive friend with human foibles. Rosemary stands up for herself but with kindness and forbearance. Dirk apologizes and forgives Max.
Violence & Scariness
Max's mother died of cancer when he was young, and Rosemary's young husband drowned, both before the action begins. Herman deliberately drives his car over Max's bike. Max tampers with the brakes on his friend's car, causing an accident with no injuries. Max shoots the ear of an enemy with a BB rifle, then asks him to be in a play. The description of someone getting his finger blown off during a play rehearsal is mentioned. Fake blood and fake death abound in a play depicting violent combat in Vietnam. A parent hits his teenage son sitting behind him in the back of a car. Max is punched and walks around with bloody gauze in his nostrils. Young boys throw rocks at Max in retaliation for his betrayal. The headmaster has a stroke. He is seen in the hospital recovering. Max tries to forcibly kiss Rosemary. She pushes him away, and he falls.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Posters of bare-breasted women are seen as part of a play's set design. "Hand jobs," "fingering," and "banging" are all referenced. Herman leaves Rosemary's house at 2 a.m., suggesting a sexual relationship. Max informs Herman's wife that he's having an affair, resulting in a divorce.
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"F--k," "s--t," "ass," and "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Herman wears a swimsuit decorated with a Budweiser label.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults and a 15-year-old drink alcohol. Max and adults smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rushmore is a quirky 1998 comedy that was Academy Award-nominated director Wes Anderson's second feature (this one written with Owen Wilson). A 15-year-old who is both wise beyond his years and childishly selfish and annoying tries to negotiate school and the adult world. His odd maturity sets up an unrequited romantic obsession with a young teacher at his school, underscoring the notion that people who are not meant to be together can still be friends. Loyalty, betrayal, and the self-centered struggle to become an artist are all explored. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," and other such language, to hear references to sex acts, and to see underage drinking and smoking. A parent hits his teenage son sitting behind him in the back of a car. Max is punched and walks around with bloody gauze in his nostrils. Young boys throw rocks at Max in retaliation for his betrayal. Max tries to forcibly kiss Rosemary. She pushes him away, and he falls.
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Beautiful color and Murray slays...
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What's the Story?
Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is a 10th-grader on scholarship at the tony private school Rushmore Academy. Max shows his devotion to the academy by participating in every possible extracurricular activity, but he's risking expulsion unless his grades improve. Max falls for one of the teachers, a beautiful young widow (Olivia Williams). And he connects with Blume (Bill Murray), a rich academy alumnus who is drawn to Max's passions and even acts as a go-between for Max's absurd attempt at courtship, until he himself becomes attracted to the teacher. All three characters feel a sense of loss. Blume and the teacher seem stuck. Max, with his collision of adult and childish emotions, comes up with one hopeless scheme after another to get attention and respect, ignoring genuine opportunities for true friendship. Yet somehow he manages to keep working toward his dreams -- and even makes a few of them come true.
Is It Any Good?
This abstract story about the misery that comes from the grandiosity and humiliation during adolescence is probably of more interest to adults. Many teens are already only too aware of those experiences.
Rushmore is not a movie in which people learn great lessons and are drawn closer together. It's a movie in which a lot of hurt people grope toward something that even they cannot quite visualize. Its appeal is in its quirky characters and in its moments of humor and perception.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Max and Herman's rivalry. Who do you want to win? Why?
At the beginning of the movie, Max seems to use people to help him achieve his goals. What are some signals that he is learning to treat people differently by the end of the film?
Do you think artists must be selfish to create great art? Do you think the movie wants you to forgive Max as he matures into a more sympathetic person?
- In theaters: December 11, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: June 29, 1999
- Cast: Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams
- Director: Wes Anderson
- Studio: Touchstone Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong language and sexual references
- Last updated: March 5, 2023
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