Bomb Rating: 

From the makers of "Bottle Rocket," this coming-of-age story has about as much relevance to normal teenagers as vacuuming does to Bill Gates.

Rushmore Academy 10th-grader Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) is that overachieving punk who gets into every club and every social activity so he can inflate his transcript when he applies to the Ivy League. In other words, every normal kid who considers waking up without a big spooge of drool on his pillow a lifetime achievement wishes Max Fisher would get the ass-kickin' of his life. The ostensible irony is that Max is so distracted by his extracurricular activities that he gets poor grades.

Max's sense of reality is so warped that he falls for a first-grade teacher, Miss Cross (Olivia Williams), and thinks he actually has a chance with her. He solicits the help of a steel tycoon and school benefactor, Mr. Blume (Bill Murray), to build an aquarium to win over Miss Cross, only to have Miss Cross and Mr. Blume fall for one another.

Bill Murray must have scratched all the itchy spots off with a belt sander when he had the chicken pox as a kid, because his face has more holes in it than an O.J. Simpson alibi. Nevertheless, director Wes Anderson insists on those lingering close-ups where, if you stare long enough with your eyes unfocused, you can begin to make out a hidden 3-D picture of the Eiffel Tower. This is all made possible by Murray's new acting philosophy, which is "stand still and appear perplexed." I must qualify as an actor, too, because that was exactly what I did while watching "Rushmore."

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