15. Empire Records
When I was about to start high school, I discovered Clerks and it immediately became my favorite movie at the time. As a freshmen I was a nerdy TV Studio/Stage Crew kid and I never really expanded outside of that (except the occasional newspaper meeting). While working stage crew my freshmen year I was talking to another movie nerd in the school’s production of Anything Goes. His name was David Edwards and I don’t think I ever had another conversation with him but in our brief conversation of favorite movies he said ‘Clerks is pretty good, but believe me when I say Empire Records is the greatest movie ever made.’ Based on that recommendation, I rented it over the weekend.
Empire Records is not the greatest movie ever made, it’s not even a particularly good movie from a stand point of story, camera work or even acting. But all of that is a moot point, it’s all about fun. Empire Records is Clerks in a record shop, however unlike Clerks which looks like a miserable filming schedule, Empire Records looks like a group of young unknown actors/actresses (and Liv Tyler) having the time of their lives.
The whole movie is told within 24 hours. Late at night Empire Records employee Lucas is closing up the store. While fooling around he discovers plans to turn the mom and pops record store into a corporate MegaRecords store. Lucas decides to take matters into his own hands and drives to Atlantic City to gamble the profits of that night in order to save the records shop. Instead he loses everything.
The next morning store manager Joe has to deal with the owner Mitch screaming and yelling about the money, shoplifters and all the crazy anti-authority antics of the employees. Lucas turns into a philosophical spouting prophet, punker Mark wants to form a band, A.J. wants to tell Corey that he loves her, but Corey wants to have sex with pop superstar Rex Manning who’s doing a signing in the store that day. Meanwhile Debra is suicidal and picking fights with Berko and Gina (the slutty employee and Corey’s best friend).
The true star of the movie however is good old fashion rock and roll. Empire Records (much like Singles) is packed with songs that all represent the 90’s. The 90’s was a time period were one radio station could play a rap song, an acoustic song, a heavy metal song and a punk song back to back and no one said anything. Empire Records acts as a music time capisle. Sadly the soundtrack is filled with the most forgettable songs from the movie.
The dialogue is funny and quick and despite some really awful acting here and there every character is likable. Lucas and Mark easily becoming the best characters however with one liner after one liner.
Empire Records is an incredible film. Incredible in the sense that within a mere 100 minutes the film manages to represent an entire season of Beverly Hills 90210. There’s drug addiction, family issues, thief, sex, love and rock and roll.
Be warned, avoid the ‘Special Edition Directors Cut’ if you can. It alters some of the best scenes in the original with less than stellar versions.