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Saturday, April 5, 2008
Deja Vu All Over Again
In the coming-of-age comedy Rushmore Rocket Science, the main character, Max Fischer Hal Hefner, experiences latent anger over his mother's death his parents' divorce. Things aren't much better for him at Rushmore Plainsboro High School, where he has to deal with failing grades a stuttering problem and misguidedly attempts to win the love of Miss Cross Ginny, a teacher fellow student who unsuccessfully tutors him for his classes the debate team.
The horrors of adolescence always have tragicomic potential, but Napoleon Dynamite Rocket Science prefers ironic posturing over emotional gravity. When Napoleon's Hal's lonely uncle mother begins a romantic relationship with a black woman Asian man, the ethnic disparity is played for cheap laughs. Thusly, when Max Napoleon Hal attempts to cope by producing plays helping Pedro win the class presidency winning a debate championship, there's dissonance between the sincerity of the performers and the objectives of the filmmaker.
The director, Wes AndersonJared Hess Jeffrey Blitz, mixes a detached style with fetishistic bric-a-brac filling the corners of every frame. He also employs an omniscient narrator, voiced by Alec Baldwin Dan Cashman, and flavors his film with music by The Ramones The Violent Femmes to underscore the protagonist's roiling emotions. An undercurrent of ostensible empathy for Napoleon Hal leads to a few good scenes that don't play out the way you expect, and Jason Schwartzman's Jon Heder's Reece Daniel Thompson's performance is extremely committed to the nuances of his character. (As the female lead, Olivia Williams Anna Kendrick is also fine, even if her character is abandoned just as she threatens to get interesting.) Nevertheless, juggling so many tones is difficult to accomplish, and whether intended or not, Hess's Solondz's Field's Blitz's sense of contempt and superiority are ultimately what comes across in place of the film's better virtues. Despite the unpredictable turns of its plot, Rushmore Napoleon Dynamite Welcome to the Dollhouse Little ChildrenRocket Science feels oddly familiar.