Empire Records (1995)

2009-07-11 16:29
 
Empire Records

If you ever needed a lesson in job satisfaction, watch this movie. These misfit teenagers aren't really friends. Some of them even hate each other, while others harbour secret crushes. But their love for their job at Empire Records is what makes them a dancing-in-the-aisles, dysfunctional family to die for.

The day starts off disastrously as it's discovered that Lucas (Rory Cochrane) has 'stolen' the day's takings and Empire Records could become a Music Town – a somewhat cheesier corporate version of Musica. What ensues is a crazy day involving a kitschy, chest-hair-baring MOR balladeer Rex Manning, a fake funeral for Debra (Robin Tunney) and a rooftop concert, plus much much more. Are you excited? I am all over again!

The first time I heard of Empire Records was when my best friend, Neil, bought the soundtrack. He was always cool and edgy like that. After playing me some Gin Blossoms and The Cranberries I was hooked. So finally in the summer of 2001, I watched what was already a classic and realised that some of my favourite actors and actresses were stars way before I got my Movie Card.

Renee Zellweger shows that she wasn't always a rom-com queen. She shines as the slutty but oh-so-witty Gina, who's desperate to escape small-town life. Liv Tyler is a little irritating as the Rex Manning obsessed, over-achieving speed freak Corey. Anthony LaPaglia plays store manager Joe, but he could have easily come across as a sleazy ex-rocker with his greasy hair, tight jeans and one earring. However, his shy yet full-hearted attempts to care for his young staff redeem his less than becoming appearance.

Rory Cochrane is the original Seth Cohen (from TV's The O.C.). He's intelligent (read smart-ass), a little nerdy and hilarious. This all makes him extremely irresistible as the valiant Lucas. Robin Tunney is so good at playing dead. Her character Debra is depressed and a bit psycho, but when she sells her scooter to help save the store, it’s a dual redemption. Ethan Embry is squishable as the energizer-bunny Mark who's ready to take over the world with his one-man band. Debi Mazar 's usual humour is underused as Jane, Rex Manning's manager. Ah yes, Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield). How could we forget about Rex Manning Day?

His swishy hair and satin shirt make the ladies at the local bowls club weak(er) at the knees. His latest single, "Say No More Mon Amour" is out and he's at Empire Records to sign some autographs. Watch the video and you'll see why Rex Manning Day is the perfect day for a semi-hostile takeover.



The rest of the music in the movie is mesmerising. From Gina's tribute to Lucas – "I Want Money" to "Video Killed The Radio Star" and the infectious "Sugar High", it’s the foundation of the story.

It's ultimately the original, eccentric characters that make you enjoy the frivolity of a young working life all over again. One of the most memorable moments was when Corey took her clothes off for Rex and stood there in a red bra and white schoolgirl panties. I couldn't help thinking – how original. She's not wearing matching underwear like EVERY other girl in every other movie.

There's so much to say about this joyride, it's best to read the quotes and hopefully you'll get a feeling for what I'm gushing about.

A little bit of trivia: (from imdb.com)

- When angrily leaving Rex Manning's parting words are "Why don't you all just fade away?" which are lyrics from the song "My Generation" by The Who.

- The movie was originally filmed as two days but was cut and fit to one.

- The movie was written by a former employee of Tower Records store #166 (Christown Mall) in Phoenix, Arizona. When the film was released and for a long time afterward, a number of her former coworkers still working cited anecdotes and other elements of the film that related to the store. This store closed in early 2005, ten years after the film's release.

Memorable quotes

(Gina and Deb are reading over the rules and regulations for Music Town staff)
Deb: No visible tattoos.
Gina: No revealing clothing. We're both screwed.
Deb: At least you're used to it.

(Deb joins Gina at the till with her newly shaved head)
Gina: Sinead O' Rebellion! Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behaviour!
Deb: God, that is so clever. I swear you get smarter the shorter your skirt gets.

Gina: Attention Rex Manning fans, to your left you will notice a shoplifter being chased by night manager, Lucas. This young man will be caught, deep fried in a vat of hot oil and served to our first hundred customers. Just another tasty treat from the gang at Empire Records.

[Answering the phone]

Mark: Empire Records, open 'til midnight, this is Mark.
[pause]
Mark: Midnight.

Lucas: Joe, I think it's gonna be okay.
Joe: What makes you think that?
Lucas: Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.


Gum chewing, tattooed, silver-pierced freaks trying to save their record store make for a very rare thing – a smart teen comedy.

K1d 2009/07/12 6:05 PM
MUTISAUCE - why isn't this being screened on (dstv) "classix" in a slot on TCM (but anywhere !) under like an "old-modern but gReaT" banner, instead of endless f*ken "2001... which belongs in a slot like "olde modern but unlikely by a great Director".
Rapunzell 2009/07/13 6:21 PM
I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!! Classics never die! One of my favourites in my collection ....
cuba 2009/07/14 12:08 PM
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great movie! i was surprised with the amount of tasks the complete in a single day... made me feel like an underachiever :(
Mike 2009/07/14 1:00 PM
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THE BEST MOVIE EVER... My favourite line: Mark eating the dagga cookies sees himself in a Gwar music video. Gwar lead singer: "Wow man. Mark man, you play a mean guitar man. It's such a shame that you must ...DIE"
Lise 2009/07/14 4:37 PM
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Wasn't a young Tobey Maguire also in this absolutely cool movie?
Charleen 2009/11/11 4:15 PM
AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME! It's in my collection of movies and I've watched it a good 'five' times. That little dude who is caught shoplifting turns out to be quite a cool, funny character in the movie. As for Rene Zellwegger, she really rocked in this role! It's such a feel-good movie - makes you wish you worked at Empire Records!!!
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