Charity Shop Cinema | Empire Records – Film Review

Empire Records

Synopsis – Twenty-four hours in the lives of the young employees at Empire Records when they all grow up and become young adults thanks to each other and the manager. They all face the store joining a chain store with strict rules.

Director – Allan Moyle

Starring – Anthony LaPaglia, Robin Tunney, Renee Zellweger, Johnny Whitworth, Liv Tyler

Genre – Comedy | Drama

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Released – 1995

For fans of – Clueless, Mallrats, Dope


This isn’t the most inclusive of movies you’re ever likely to see and there are entirely too many staff employed at this record store for it to be practical, but there’s something about Allan Moyle’s 1995 comedy-drama Empire Records that charms the viewer enough that you can overlook its unrealistic plot and lack of character development. It’s Rex Manning Day after all.

Empire Records
Empire Records (1995)

Touching on issues such as female sexuality, mental health issues leading to suicidal thoughts, the rapid expansion of corporations at the expense of independent complaints and what can lead someone to a life of crime, Empire Records does try to expand on the tired and tested teen-drama formula that was popular in the 80s and early 90s, though only some of these aspects work within the context of the plot, while others felt to me like an easy way to provide some form of characterization to this surprisingly large group of pretty white teens. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the characters’ names but can remember most by the basic stereotypes (the slut, the angry one, the druggy, the clown and the poet etc).

That said, I don’t feel the movie loses too much by including these characters, in fact, it should be applauded for including some in what from the outside looks like just another 90s slacker movie populated by attractive white kids, with Moyles’ capturing the feel of the time perfectly, a time when record stores were the #1 hangout for teens looking to spend their money, converse likeminded people or score a date. Another thing that makes the movie such a delight is the timeless soundtrack that mirrors the optimistic and upbeat outlook on life, while the acting is pretty solid across the board.

Empire Records
Anthony LaPaglia, Rory Cochrane, Johnny Whitworth, Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger

With critics complaining that the movie was all music no substance, Empire Records was considered a lot at the time, however, I believe it’s time to reevaluate this slice of 90s teen culture, after all sometimes an uplifting movie about sticking it to ‘the man’ is all you need to brighten your mood.

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