A group of kids try to save the record store where they work
Written By: Andrew Lowe
Date: 5th September, 2015
This is what is considered a cult film from the middle of the Nineties during the period of lots of indie films, following the same style as Dazed and Confused and Clerks. But is it truly any good? Well let's find out.
Firstly we have to look at the era this film was made. You had lots of indie films being made whcih lead to a huge amount of creative freedom in the film industry. I personally never heard of Empire Records when it came out, but there were many movies I never heard of that I absolutely love. Mallrats, Clerks, Dazed & Confused, Swingers and Chasing Amy are some of them. I didn't really get to know these films till university. Lots of these films has excellent grunge style soundtracks, whcih was very big at the beginning of the Nineties. Now this doesn't mean that every film that came out at the time was good. This leads us to Empire Records.
The plot has many different threads. The main plot is that an old fashioned record store is going to be converted into a chain store where the misfit employees will have to conform to the corporate rules. The manager, Joe, is looking to buy the store so that he can stop this from happening. But thanks to Lucas, one of his employees, taking the takings and going to Atlantic City to gamble and lose all the money (Lucas does this thinking he can help raise more money to buy the store), Joe's plans fall through as he doesn't want to get anyone into trouble.
Each of the employees also have their own (very brief) subplots, all happening at the same time.
Corey is obsessed with doing well at school, she is taking speed to keep studying and has a crush on an aging cheesy singer, Rex Manning, that she wants to lose her virginity with (who it just so happens to be doing an autograph session at the store that day). When Corey throws herself at him, he acts like a low class dirty old man type, which she then sees the error of her ways. However after an argument with her friend Gina, Gina ends up having sex with Rex, where everyone can hear them. Corey sees them come out and then the two have a big bust up in front of everyone. Corey telling her how basically she is a slut and Corey is hiding a drug problem. Later on after Corey and Gina make up, Gina reveals that she really wants to be a singer but is too scared to try.
Debra comes into the store at the beginning of the day and cuts off all of her hair, and goes for a skinhead look. Her plotline is that she is suicidal (never really explained why although its hinted about her being abandoned) and so after cheering up Corey when she was upset after her fallout with Gina. Corey wants to help Debra understand what her funeral would be like. So she gets the rest of the employees to help stage a mock funeral. After all of the honesty spoken, Debra reveals that she tried cutting her wrists with a lady razor.
AJ is actually in love with Corey and vows to tell her today, which he does but with the worst timing as its just after Corey has just run off from throwing herself at Max. AJ takes this as a rejection, but later in the day Corey tells him that she loves him too.
Lucas throughout the day spots a shoplifter (who uses 'Warren Beatty' as a fake name) and Joe reports him to the Police. As he is taken away he swears that he will be back. Warren comes back with a gun (full of blanks) and starts shooting it in the store. It turns out that he actually wants a job there. So they give him a work badge and again he is taken away by the Police.
All of the employees try and raise enough money to cover what Lucas lost, they have an idea to throw a party/rave outside of the store with a band playing on the roof. They sell badges and beer outfront. Eventually they have enough money, and give it to the owner, Mitch. Joe quits, leaving the shop full of customers and Mitch not able to do anything there. Mitch then agrees to sell the store to Joe, securing everyone's jobs.
All I have to say about this movie is what the hell?
This film has about five different plots going on at once of which most don't ever go anywhere, or the plots come in at about five minutes before they are really needed, or just come out of no where just to try tie everything up.
One example is Gina's revelation that is she scared to be a singer. This comes in at about two thirds in to the movie, about five-ten minutes before she sings with the band and has no problems doing it except for being shocked for a few seconds when being told to sing the lead. How can anyone take this seriously or even care about this?
Another is Corey saying that she is in love with AJ, which is done right at the end of the film. Corey hasn't expressed any romantic interest in AJ through out the entire movie, yet by the end she is madly in love with him. This is absolutely terrible story telling!
Debra's plot is never truly resolved. Is she still suicidal or has she decided against it now? The movie never says, she just helps out with everyone else. So what was the point in having this if you never truly finish it off?
And the most bizarre plot points is Joe instead of making Lucas and Warren face the consequences of their actions, lets them both off and either fixes the problems or gives them a job. I'm sorry but if anyone stole from me, I would want them in prison as fast as I could, especially if they stole $9000. This is just not believeable.
The only plot point that kind of make sense is AJ being in love with Corey, but even that is a bit weird as there is something about AJ maybe not going to art school but never fully fleshed out.
Secondly there is not a record store like this on the planet! No employees would ever be allowed to act in this way or be allowed to play this kind of music in a store and just start dancing with all the customers. Its just plain ridiculous!
The only saving grace in this entire movie is the music. I do like some of the choices and I would recommend if you're into Nineties music, which I am.
Now I know many people love this film, but I just don't get it. None of the characters are defined enough to care about, and none of their plots are defined enough for me to even care about what is happening to them! And all of the plots are the worst kinds of stereotypical high school junk thats in every teen film! I'm just glad the whole thing is done in under ninety minutes.
Oh and to fans of this film I just have this to say, this film's ideas was done in much better in High Fidelity and the characters iweren't whining high students. So I would suggest watching that instead.