Cult films are almost always a mixed bag by definition. I first watched ‘Empire Records’ hoping for another ‘Dazed and Confused’ and felt rather (inevitably) disappointed when it was nothing of the sort. Now, a few years later, I watched it again remembering the good bits, but alas it still doesn’t sit quite properly with me…
You can’t get too critical about this sort of thing, a film like ‘Empire Records’ isn’t meant to be analysed in such a way, so it would be a moot point to start whinging about lack of development regarding themes or characters or something similar. I think what stops me from either loving or hating the film is the delicate balance it manages between it’s strengths and weaknesses… for instance, there’s some really cliched, bad direction but the odd flash of great dialogue and effective combinations of characters & actors kind of saves the film from this. They sort of work against one another, one always threatening to eclipse the other but never quite getting there. Some bits of the film are embarrassingly cheesy, but the director seems to know this, it’s almost as if he’s trying to recreate an 80s John Hughes film and doesn’t really care if he succeeds or not. Each to his own I guess.
There’s a great selection of up-and-coming actors and actresses to be seen in Â‘Empire RecordsÂ’; Renee Zellwegger, Liv Tyler, Robin Tunney (who’s career seemed to have petered out as quickly as it peaked) and Brendan Sexton III (an odd yet underrated young actor who can also be seen in ‘That Thing You Do’ and ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’). Anthony LaPaglia also does a great job as the older-brother/father figure to the rest of the characters. As I said before, I think this oneÂ’s a mixed bag – equally hit-and-miss, for every good or hilarious moment there’s one that makes me cringe and want to switch it off. But that’s just me – some people really love this film.
RIVIA: 80s punk band GWAR guest star as themselves in a terrifyingly funny scene involving ‘special recipe’ muffins (or cookies, I can’t remember).
The film was originally set over the course of two days and subsequently edited to appear as one.