28 February 2011

OMENS: Empire Records

Empire Records

Starring Anthony LaPaglia, Maxwell Caulfield, Debi Mazar, Rory Cochrane, Johnny Whitworth, Robin Tunney, Renée Zellweger, Ethan Embry, Coyote Shivers, Brendan Sexton III, Liv Tyler, James 'Kimo' Wills, Ben Bodé
Written by Carol Heikkinen
Directed by Allan Moyle
Release: 22 September 1995
Regency Enterprises, 106 mins., NR

Plot: The lives of record store employees on one 'exceptional' day.

Heard a lot of good things about this one, and it didn't disappoint. Clever writing and powerful - and not to forget mentioning fun - performances that make what could have been a exercise in redundancy actually a enjoyable and recommendable film.

Similar to CLERKS, the events that unfold in EMPIRE RECORDS transpire in one day. Money is 'borrowed' by a employee in order to secure further financing for the store's future (it's about to be transformed into something else if the company has its way), goes terribly wrong, and furthermore, a famous singer will be appearing at the store later that day (just to add onto the stress), and the employees are acting crazier than usual. As expected, it's a day where characters realize truths about themselves but end up improved and better than ever as night comes by.

It's not necessarily brand new material the movie is exploring, but the success of its indulgence rests entirely on the script and cast. Fine pacing doesn't hurt matters, either, which is the case here.

EMPIRE boasts an exceptional cast, but the real standout performance here is Anthony LaPaglia as the store owner, Joe. He's a unique character who defied my expectations, making him definitely memorable and me wishing I have a boss like that in the future. Renee Zellweger plays the promiscuous role that inevitably has a conflict with Liv Tyler (through be told, I initially mistook Zellweger for Joey Lauren Adams). Next to LaPaglia, the other memorable role that deserves recognition, thanks to performance and script, is Brendan Sexton III as Warren, a young adult who resorts to illegal, crazy antics in order to get a job.

A not-bad music selection [coming from me, that's a compliment; I'm a tad picky], interesting characters that reach a endpoint that doesn't feel contrived [albeit a little 7TH HEAVENy, and the finale romance that seems to come out of nowhere], stellar performances, and most of all - entirely fun. It may not resonant with me nearly as strongly as other teen comedy/dramas from the nineties, namely CAN'T HARDLY WAIT and AMERICAN PIE, but it is nonetheless a strong effort that excels and deserves recognition and to be watched.

Netflix Rating: Really Liked It


Fletch said...

So, Andy...you know what record stores are? ;)

I've never loved Empire Records like so many have, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I think the best thing I can say about it is that, for the type of movie it is, it really impressed me how the characters are actual people and not mere charicatures or stereotypes. You commment on LaPaglia reminded me of that; they could have easily made him some asshole boss type, but he's not at all.

I think that were I actually just a couple years younger that this would've been one of my favorites in high school (I was almost 19 when it came out).

In the end, I wish it were just a bit more like Dazed and Confused and a bit less crazyhappyteenagermovie. Though both have Rory Cochrane, and he's the shit.

Andy the Time Lord said...

Haha, well, yes...I just haven't ever walked into one, to my great regret.

When it comes to teen movies and the characters learning a little something about themselves...they really need to have unique, defy expectations-type characters to save it, and that's the benefit of LaPaglia and the Warren dude.

And thanks for reminding me I still really gotta see DAZED AND CONFUSED. Folks buy that flick nearly every week at my store.

Fletch said...

Wow. Come to Phoenix - there's still a cool independent record (er, CD) store chain that exists here.

And yes, see Dazed. Hope it hasn't been built up too much, but if you dig day-in-the-life movies and want to see a bunch of famous actors before they were famous, it's right up your alley. And it has a TREEmendous soundtrack.