“We mustn’t dwell. No! Not today. Not on Rex Manning Day!”
Every time I watch Empire Records I always get this overpowering sense of growing pains knocked through me. When the movie first came out in 1995, I was going through that defining moment in a girl’s life in which she realizes she’s too old for Barbies, too young for guys, but just the right age to wear a plaid skirt with Doc Martins and kind-of, sort-of understand Gin Blossoms lyrics.
At the time, this movie, and other ones like Dazed and Confused and Mallrats were taking us into a setting, something sort of coming-of-age, and giving us glimpses into that one corner in the world…whether it be a record store, a mall, or the infamous moon tower. I tend to analyze these films under the same theory: that in the early to mid ’90s, the cultural trends were paying infinite homage to the late ’60s. And this showed onscreen. I figure this had much to do with the increased popularity in grunge music at the time, since grunge lyrics were typically full of angst, social issues, apathy, and most importantly, that eternal thirst for freedom.
These kids in Empire Records just wanted to save something they believed in from becoming a corporate casualty. All the while, they were dealing with issues like sex, suicide, money, jealousy, and friendship. The woes of being a teenager. In the words of Gina (Renee Zellweger), “Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior.” Oh, and this all took place in the span of one day. What’s great about this movie goes beyond the melodramatic script backed by the somber cries of a Cranberries song. I think the finest moments are found in, of all things, the awesome dance ensemble scenes. Take one: “Say No More, Mon Amore!” Sexy. Take two: “If You Want Blood, You Got It.” A favorite among fans. Take three: “This Is The Day,” the infamous rooftop scene at the end of the film, a personal fave of mine.
The greater picture here is bigger than an AC/DC rendition though. It’s even bigger than daisy Bic razors and quarters glued to the floor. Something bigger is always moving in and taking the place of something smaller. I think there’s a little Empire in all of us: a desire to keep something around because we recognize how great it is. “Damn the man! Save the Empire!” If I haven’t made it clear enough yet – see this movie. It’s a classic.