Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Empire Records (1995)

"This music is the glue of the world, Mark. It's what holds it all together. Without this, life would be meaningless."

Whoa, that was a blast from the past.

Been many years since I last watched this prime slice of 90s hipster nonsense. And I still have THE biggest crush on Liv Tyler, wearing the sexiest outfit on film ever. 

And I still hate Lucas and, to a certain extent, Mark.

Watching it back, the stereotypes haven't aged very well and they're really creaky, but then you know what? I think they were creaky in 1995. Let's face it for all its hip swagger, scratch the veneer of Empire Records and you're essentially looking at one of those cringe making 'hey, let's do the show right here daddy-o' films of the 1950s. On close examination, there's little difference between this and Cliff Richards' The Young Ones, say. But that's fine, because every generation needs a generational pop culture film and for the 1990s it was films like this. The DNA is largely untouched and this now joins the rose tinted 'days of my youth' films like John Hughes movies of the 1980s.

When Empire Records is at its best it's a knowing, feelgood series of sketches that can't help but raise a smile, all played out to a genuinely eclectic soundtrack. What its less good at is being anything other than superficial; scenes that attempt to go a little deeper into the characters lives and try to introduce some emotional trauma (aborted suicide attempts, speed addiction etc) are so weak they largely fall flat on their face and become a little insultingly pat. It would have been far better to have not approached such themes really. It didn't need to be deep, hell it's not even deep about the music!

All that makes it sound like I dislike the film, I really don't, because Empire Records is a really fun movie. If you're not tapping a toe and smiling by the time The The's This Is The Day plays out to signify the end credits then there's probably no hope for you.

It's also the film that gives that prime piece of British forestry Maxwell Caulfield (an actor so wooden it's a wonder he wasn't cast in The Plank) his one good role - that of the faded pop sex symbol for the teenyboppers,  Rex Manning. Altogether now 'Say No More, Mon Amour....'

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some serious daydreaming over Liv Tyler to do *sighs*

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