Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lazy Movie Weekend: What's with today today?

Where do I even begin with Empire Records? There are lots of movies about music that are wonderful and probably way more "important" than this movie but there's something perfect about Empire Records. Maybe it's because it existed in a very specific time (1995) when wild things were going on in music. People still bought actual music. We didn't download songs - we went to record stores, browsed through the stacks, and walked out with a bag of awesome. We'd go home, open our albums or CDs (which inevitably included not getting all of the label off so you struggled to actually open the case) and listen to the music while reading the liner notes. And then we'd listen to the record or CD again and again. And probably make a mix tape for someone.

I love this movie. When I was a teenager, I loved it because it was cool. I remember reading somewhere that it was only released in New York and Los Angeles (I have no idea if this is actually true and can't find an article or anything to support this). I thought that was badass. I wanted to dress like Corey but act like Deb. I had a huge crush on Lucas. And Joe (the wonderful Anthony LaPaglia) was the ideal boss - dressed like a rock star, played drums (to my favorite AC/DC song), and genuinely cared about his employees even if it didn't always seem like it. I wanted to work at Empire Records, be their friend, and marry Lucas. That was my dream.

What's not to love about this movie? I could have gone on for pages and pages but tried to pick the best of the best for this LMW:
  • The movie takes place in Delaware. Yes, Delaware. 
  • April 8 = Rex Manning Day. Mark it on your calendars and make sure you prepare accordingly in the future.
  • Nothing good ever happens in Atlantic City.
  • "I'm guided by a force much greater than luck." Lucas - I'm convinced that Lucas is a ninja.
  • Coyote Shivers (the guy that played Berko) was married to Bebe Buell at the time of filming. This made him Liv Tyler's stepdad.
  • The bridge is the same one used on the show One Tree Hill. Thank you, Katie!
  • "My dad sad there's 24 usable hours in a day."-Corey. I should tattoo this somewhere.
  • The video for "Say No More, Mon Amour" - on the Remix version of the DVD (which I own), I can watch the entire video. I will never, ever do this.
  • The Remix version of the DVD actually has extra scenes cut into the film (you don't have to watch them separately). I haven't yet decided if they're all worth the extra time or not.
  • It's possible that we glued quarters to the floor of the theatre's paint room in high school because of this movie. 
  • The only Dire Straits song that matters: "Romeo and Juliet"
  • Robin Tunney really did shave her head. And looks amazing.
  • A.J.: I have to tell Corey that I love her by 1:37. Lucas: That's an excellent time.
  • "What's with today today?" Lucas is the best character.
  • "Well Sinead O'Rebellion. Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior." Gina
  • Holy purple shirt, Rex Manning! 
  • "Let me explain it to you. Mitchell's the man. I'm the idiot. You're the screw up. And we're all losers. Welcome to Music Town." Joe
  • Ethan Embry's sister is in this movie (autograph girl) and Maxwell Caufield's stepdaughter is the ballet dancer.
  • "I don't feel that I need to explain my art to you Warren." A.J.
  • A friend recently told me that he doesn't like the song "A Girl Like You" by Edwyn Collins. His reason is because he doesn't like the sound of Edwyn's voice (I can sort of get behind this argument but not entirely). I would argue that it could be because it's the song that plays when Gina hooks up with Rex. To me, this implies that "a girl like you" is sort of slutty. Also, the song unnecessarily uses a xylophone (or at least something that sounds like a xylophone). It could also be the "y" in his name.
  • Whether or not you like Edwyn Collins, the soundtrack is still pretty great. Gin Blossoms, Better than Ezra, Evan Dando (covers Big Star!), Drill, and Toad the Wet Sprocket to name a few. Of course, the best songs are not on the soundtrack itself and before the world of Shazam, I had to read the credits to figure out the name of the Throwing Muses song and the two Cranberries songs. 
  • Two plotlines that seem odd: Corey's diet pill addiction and Joe's adopting/big brothering of Lucas. We never really get any details or enough information to really know what's up with either. 
  • "I made you a tape last night for educational purposes." Eddie
  • Deb's buttons - I've always wanted a button maker and this is why.
  • "I don't know. I'm either going to jail or to hell. I can't decide which." Joe
  • "This music is the glue of the world, Mark. Without it, life would be meaningless." Eddie (Probably my favorite quote.)
  • Deb's funeral: did they really just have all that stuff around the store? I'm not sure that I could throw together an impromptu fake funeral or wedding or any party at work with just the materials on hand although I do have an inordinate amount of post-its so I'm sure I could figure something out.
  • "Damn the man. Save the Empire." Mark
  • The grandmas in curlers at the party - they are my favorite.
  • Gina sings! This is actually my favorite Renee Zelweger movie but I hate this song.
  • A.J. fixes the sign, the Empire is saved, Corey loves A.J., and we finish by dancing to the best song of the movie, "This Is the Day" by The The.
  • Lucas is a ninja.
Empire Records is not really about a record store. I mean, it is about a day at a record store (and was written by a former Tower Records employee who based the characters on people she worked with) but it's actually about the larger ideas of community and family. Lucas says it best, "A.J., she's in the store." He's talking about Deb's suicide attempt - if she's in the store, she's safe. Throughout the whole movie the group functions like a family - they take care of one another, fight, dance around the store to the worst song ever ("Say No More, Mon Amour"), and band together to save the Empire from the man. Even Warren wants to work at Empire - he comes back because he wants to be part of it not because he's a stupid punk. These are not the record store clerks of High Fidelity. They don't make you feel bad about your awful taste in music. They just want to be your friend.

Next Saturday is Record Store Day. If you have never experienced RSD, I highly recommend that you do so this year. Go to an actual record store. Hang out with other people who love music, small businesses, and the independent spirit of rock and roll. Buy an actual CD or album. Take it home, open it up, and sit and listen to it while reading the liner notes. It could change your life (like Anita told William in Almost Famous) and it might just make you feel connected in this otherwise disconnected world. As my friend Katie pointed out to me recently, no one need Facebook or Twitter to go to the party to save the Empire. They just needed the music.

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Video from


  1. Ahhh Empire Records. The movie of my teen years. Like you I wanted to work there and marry Lucas. In my thirties... I still do :)

  2. I'll want to marry Lucas forever!