In the days of iTunes, the concept of a record store that’s ‘open til midnight’ is somewhat preposterous… but for the sake of nostalgia (and this review) let’s time travel back to a place called the mid-90’s, before iTunes was born and when the high speed interwebs didn’t exist. These were the days when Liv Tyler was the quintessential rock chick (she and Alicia Silverstone were pretty much in EVERY Aerosmith video during that era – thanks to Steven Tyler of course) and young men hadn’t yet evolved into the hipster wimps we see so often today (1D… They weren’t even a glimmer in their father’s eye). This was before emo’s, before SNAG’s… this was the early days of the Grunge movement, when there was almost a love revival (a-la the 1960’s). It really was the best of times.
Welcome to Empire Records, home to the most interesting, beautiful group of slacker-youth that ever existed in the movie universe… and Anthony Lapaglia
This is actually a pretty fun trailer, which doesn’t spoil all the best bits of the film but manages to sum up in no uncertain terms just how 90’s it really is.
This is one of the movies that I loved deeply as a teenager because it gave my friends and I so many memorable, quotable bits of dialogue. Here are some gems, but this list is not exhaustive:
‘I don’t regret the things I’ve done but those I did not do’
‘…not on Rex Manning Day’
‘In this life, there are nothing but possibilities…’
‘No, it’s not going to be fine! Nothing is ever fine!’
‘Stop calling me Warren, my name isn’t f*cking Warren!!’ (I still have a friend that is saved in my phone as Not Warren – shout out to him)
and one of my oft used, personal favourites –
I think another of the strong points of Empire Records is that it is ultimately a story of standing by your friends and believing in yourself, the strength of your character and your integrity. These are themes which never age. Oh, and lest we forget, it also expresses the universal truth that (most of the time) no matter how bad things seem, at the end of the day it is all going to work out okay and odds are that, despite what your personal attitude might be, the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.
Now I think about it, these are themes which are equally as relevant at 32 as they were at 16. Maybe I need to go back and give this a few more viewings. I’ve been visiting my youthful optimism a lot of late. Maybe I am subconciously trying to re-learn a few important truths. Why can say?
Sigh. If only a single day could define the rest of our whole lives… in that sense, I guess this is like a 90’s Breakfast Club – which is a film that I’ve also enjoyed immensely. Although, there’s really no character that’s comparable to John Bender (sorry Lucas, you’re not quite there on the bad-boy scale and AJ… your kind isn’t even part of the same era).
Empire Records captures early 90’s culture at its best. That’s probably one of the most enjoyable things it has going for it. I love revisiting the days before everyone was glued to their phone (we had to talk to each other!), when people were still buying compact discs… and of course, the days of the good old mix tape. (Music is the glue of the world – don’t ever forget that!)
As opposed to my usual Friday films, there’s no action in this one (except for a foot chase through the mall) and no killing (although there is a fake funeral), this is just a feel-good bit of fun that might see you into the weekend with a sense of joy.
AND, for those of you who aren’t sure, Rex Manning Day is April 8th – so make sure you stay up all night next Thursday, baking cupcakes and snorting speed… and then get our your little tartan skirt, orange apron or best patch work jeans and doc martin boots for work on the 8th.
Side bar: I think the primary reason I went back and reviewed this movie was because of AJ, played to nice guy 90’s perfection by Johnny Whitworth. Now, many of you might be asking who the hell is Johnny Whitworth and why are we revisiting him? He might look familiar to fans of the 100, but recently I saw him in Blindspot, and good grief, it was like being struck by lightening. I remember being terribly in love with AJ the first 300 times I saw this movie (although Lucas was also ‘a thing’) and then he kind of just disappeared, he did pop up briefly in The Rainmaker, but after that I never saw him again … I was left thinking that he must have gotten married (to the luckiest woman ever) and relaxed back into some kind of normal life. But no! Here he was, being more stunningly gorgeous than ever, giving me hope that men might still be beautiful well into manhood. It was a beautiful thing!