Thursday, June 23, 2011

Empire Records

Empire Records; Comedy, USA, 1995; D: Allan Moyle, S: Johnny Whitworth, Liv Tyler, Rory Cochrane, Anthony LaPaglia, Renée Zellweger

In order to save the record store he works in, "Empire Records", from getting sold to the "Music Town" franchise, employee Lucas takes the money of his boss, Joe, goes to Atlantic City one night and gambles in order to triple the amount, but loses. The next morning, he has to take responsibility in front of Joe, much to the amusement of other employees, A.J., Gina, Deb, Berko and Corey. That day, the semi-famous singer Rex appears in the store to sign autographs and Corey wants to lose her virginity with him, but he disgusts her. She even gets into fight with Gina. A shoplifter, "Warren", is detained in the store. At evening, they organize a party and collect enough money to continue working the way they like.

"Empire Records" didn't achieve a huge profit at the box office, but subsequently gained cult status because as long as there are at least 1 % of movie buffs with taste and an open mind, it will be impossible to forget movies like these by the sands of time. Maybe I'm not the right person to review it neutrally since I think that a movie about a rock 'n' roll bend or enthusiasts cannot be bad, yet it is difficult for the viewers to not get charmed at least in the fabulous opening sequence where Lucas decides to save his beloved record store, goes to Atlantic City, enters a casino and bets all the money he has, and when one girl asks him if he feels lucky he just says in cool "Blues Brothers" fashion: "I'm guided by a force far greater than luck!", rolls the dice and wins with ease.

"Empire Records" seems like some sort of a flawed version of Crowe's "Singles", as if someone decided to insert five or six bad sequences in that aforementioned masterwork of young generation in order to "test it": on one hand, the script by Carol Heikkinen and direction by Allan Moyle have some contagiously fun attitude and sense for the youthful spirit (in one humorous scene for instance, A. J. jokingly glues quarters to the ground; the sequence where fangirl Corey decides to seduce her idol, singer Rex, so she bashfully strips in underwear in his room, but then he just unzips his penis out and scares her away is a legend). But on the other hand, they unfortunately took the wrong turn in the second half when Corey and Gina broke out into a melodramatic argument, which wrecked the fine mood. Likewise, some moments were entirely senseless (the misguided "funeral" sequence). Still, the good ideas outweigh the lesser ones, the performances are fantastic (especially Renee Zellweger, Liv Tyler and Rory Cochrane) whereas the soundtrack is 'tour-de-force' ("Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles, "How" by the Cranberries, "Tomorrow" by Mouth Music and numerous others, and the list would have for sure been even bigger hadn't it been for the budget constraints), which all contribute to that fine 'hangout mood'.


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