Empire Records (1995) Review

Empire Records (1995)
Director: Allan Moyle
Starring: Anthony LaPaglia; Rory Cochrane; Liv Tyler; Renee Zellweger; Johnny Whitworth; Robin Tunney; Ethan Embry

Pump Up the Volume director Allan Moyle’s Empire Records (1995) is a great choice for your evening’s feel-good entertainment. Whether you’re a young adult, or can remember being one, this mid-90s hit will undoubtedly lift your mood.

That’s not to say that Empire Records shies away from tough subject matters, however. In fact, it manages to tackle a corporate takeover whilst also exploring depression, anxiety, and a whole range of young adult problems, whilst telling the tale of an independent music store being bought out by a corporation and its myriad of young adult staff having to “work for the man”. But, with a killer mid-90s rock and metal soundtrack accompanying the film, some The Breakfast Club-adjacent dance sequences, and a great deal of alternative 90s fashion in the wardrobe department, you can be sure to be feeling the positive vibes coming off this one from the minute you sit down to watch it.

Perhaps most interesting to a viewer in the current era are the glimpses at pre-fame Liv Tyler and especially Renee Zellweger from before they hit the heights of their reputable careers, with a few recognisable faces (including Ethan Embry) dotted around elsewhere, too.

This isn’t a challenging movie, nor is it intended to be. This is a 90s-coded anti-authoritarian film with a great soundtrack that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. A Wayne’s World more squarely aimed at late teens and young adults.

The take-home feeling is that of enjoyment and positivity. Empire Records isn’t spectacular, it isn’t the High Fidelity of its genre, it’s not going to change your life, but it will leave you with a smile on your face and a taste for late 80s glam-rock.

Score: 14/24

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