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Growing Up in the Movies
Posted September 10, 2010 to photo album "Growing Up in the Movies"
To coincide with the release of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Nick Dawson looks at more movies in which teenage protagonists are thrust into the world of grown-ups.
Slide 9: Rushmore (1998)
Wes Anderson is a fan of Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude, and makes a nod to Ashby's movie not only in his use of Cat Stevens' music in Rushmore but in the way that there is a curious reversal of traditional roles in this tale of a young man and his mentor. In Harold and Maude, there is an ironic reversal in that the young hero personifies death and the aged mentor life, and in Rushmore similarly the film's (anti-?)hero Max Fischer (Jason Schwarzman) is arguably more of an adult figure than Herman Blume (Bill Murray), his friend and benefactor-turned-nemesis who teaches him about the workings of the grown-up world, and who has something of a child-like quality. A dominant figure at his school because of his prodigious extracurricular activities (and despite his mediocre scholastic abilities), Fischer sets about trying to woo and win the heart of a teacher at his school, Ms. Cross (Olivia Williams), but finds himself out of his depth, not least because Blume becomes a competitor for her affections. In the process of his excessive competitiveness with Blume, he learns about the raw truths of adulthood and more clearly sees his place in the world. “You could argue, I guess, that the only things Rushmore has on its mind are hackneyed -- growing up is tough, and those of us who live too much in our own heads ultimately have to come to grips with the outside world,” writes Andrew O'Hehir at Salon. “But comedy is largely about the journey, not the destination, and few contemporary comedies provide as weird and as generous a trip as this one. Max's hilariously skewed imitations of adult behavior … remind us how much of our lives we spend performing roles that don't suit us, that make us feel ridiculous. In laughing at Max, we're laughing at our own vanity and pretensions, in their way as outlandish as his. Comedy can have no higher calling than that.”