Jordan Williams’s review published on Letterboxd:
Rushmore is such an amazing coming-of-age, introspective film that I wish I had seen when I was in high school. I wasn't like Max when I was 15/16; I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went with the flow and did what I could to fit in, be happy, have a fun high school experience, and get out. I went to all of the sports games, took AP courses, had a part-time job, casually joined clubs that I thought would look good on college applications, and as an upperclassman went to parties on the weekends. In retrospect I see that I spent most of my time trying to do what I believed was expected of me instead of actually finding myself- in that way I wish I had been more like Max.
Max is the kind of kid (as we see in his social interactions in the film) that most other kids either dislike or have a general annoyance with. He's a teacher's pet, put-together in terms of his self-confidence, and spends his time focusing on how to be in charge or impress adults- all things teenagers struggle with or avoid because of their social repercussions.
Anderson tends to explore the importance of a child's relationship with their parents, and Rushmore's relationship between Max and his father stands out in its optimism of unconditional support and love. Just another reason for many of his counterparts to envy or be contempt with Max, his father doesn't hound him for his poor grades and only cares about Max's happiness.
Similar to his characters in Moonrise Kingdom, the teenagers behave more like adults while the adults behave like children. Max smokes cigarettes, writes hit plays, listens to French music, declares his love pompously for a teacher, closes the shop while his father goes home first, and knows what he wants and goes for it- things more expected of those with a higher sense of maturity. The adults in his life mockingly repeat a phrase he just said, jokingly turn a 37% grade into an 87% grade, engage in a pranking war, and live in a child-like bedroom. Only in small moments are we reminded of their true ages: Max's best friend is a young boy who writes a letter with crayons, Blume gets a divorce, Guggenheim has a stroke, Rosemary reveals her deceased husband, and Max's smiles reveal his braces.
We spend our youth trying to search for our purpose or how we're supposed to fit in. Some of us end up like Max and just know, while others of us will end up like Blume and navigate with a recklessness from not knowing oneself. Max's passion is cultivating others' passions. He finds people who he thinks would succeed in a certain club or play which end up being successful and boosting the confidence of others around him. He's not good at school, but he's good at the extracurriculars where he can help his classmates find themselves. Rushmore Academy is Max's purpose- I envy that he found it at 15. As the chorus in the closing song sings, "I wish I knew then what I know now." May we all find our Rushmores.