Empire Records Review

Empire Records
Empire Records is an independent music store under threat of takeover by a big, soulless corporate chain. As the employees try to get the money together needed to keep the store open, they learn about each other, and their personal problems come to the fore.

by Caroline Westbrook |
Published on
Release Date:

28 Jun 1996

Running Time:

90 minutes



Original Title:

Empire Records

Set around the titular music emporium, a neon-lit outlet that bears more resemblance to a nightclub than your local Our Price, the slice-of-life stuff on display here is action packed. In just 24 hours, shop manager Joe (LaPaglia) and his staff are saddled with a personal appearance from a pompous 70s throwback crooner (Maxwell Caulfield, never better cast), a hold-up by a young vigilante and a takeover bid to turn the place into a chain store.

Then there are the personal problems of his adolescent employees: drug dependency, promiscuity and unrequited love. All are aired lightly but never investigated enough to intrude on the general bonhomie. Instead the young cast (headed by the appealing Tyler and the philosophising Cochrane), face life's trials by conducting mock funerals and ruminating on their ambitions.

Directed by Pump Up The Volume's Moyle, the film's main failing is its tendency to be too self-consciously hip, with a continuous music soundtrack and much footage of consumers and cashiers alike frugging on the shop floor giving, it the feel of an elongated pop video. Meanwhile the middle section, which attempts to add a serious thread to proceedings, succeeds only in slowing them down. But after the bleak picture painted by films like Kids, a contemporary of this fluffier film, it is refreshing to know that, on the evidence presented here, American teenagers are still carefree, nay blemish-free individuals.

For all its faults, the good-natured, quirky humour that this for the most part offers ultimately makes it very hard to dislike.
Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us