Empire Records - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Empire Records Reviews

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½ July 11, 2017
classic 1990's! DAMN THE MAN! SAVE THE EMPIRE! great movie with shallow enough character building to keep the movie flowing, but deep enough character building to care about each person... at least just a little bit. my favorite character, Fuckin Warren!
June 17, 2017
Classic from a bygone era. Great soundtrack, brilliant up and coming cast. Quickly as hell
May 7, 2017
Massively underrated teen comedy...!ignore reviews this is a superb film
½ April 8, 2017
Great movie. It's certainly predictable and formulaic, but it still features hilarious writing, solid direction, themes and characters anyone from the '90s can connect to, and great performances from its young ensemble cast, especially Tyler, Tunney, Embry, Zellwegger and Cochrane.
½ February 24, 2017
This movie is wonderful, and nostalgically sad, remembering a more civilized time...truth is, I hate movie critics anyway. Like I am doing here, allowing my personal feelings about a film rule my rating, film critics do the same thing, but most are paid to sit around watching movies every day while the rest of us live life and, when we can, go out and catch a good flick. Sometimes it's those moments in between, while we are living life, do we see reflections of reality in the fictions we perceive on the big screen (or DVD, or Netflix). How many horrible songs do we remember growing up with that shake the foundations of our day when we hear them now, and we would not trade them for the world, regardless of cheesy lyrics or a bad hook? I'm not saying that Empire Records is "bad but I love it". I think it's a great, fun movie. I am stating that the greatness of some things far transcends the collective critical consensus of a few people paid to sit around and tear things apart to quantify the bits. Damn the man! To bad, like all the great records stores of days past, we couldn't in the long run save the Empire!
August 20, 2016
My favourite film, I loved the plot it was interesting and quirky and so were all of the characters.
June 23, 2016
This is a horrible movie. I've never seen so much fake/sarcastic dancing in one place before. Every five minutes yet another employee starts flailing around spastically. Not sad I missed this one when it first came out.
½ May 23, 2016
It's bizarre, hilarious and a good depiction of the 90's.
½ February 18, 2016
This could be the American Version of Hi-Fidelity (assuming Hi-fidelity is English due to it's author and it's soundtrack). I found it difficult to watch a film about a record shop with such a bad sountrack. There are quite a lot of annoying characters in this too. The story is average fare for US teen films. Pretty rubbish really.
February 12, 2016
As has been said many times before, this movie is just a poor imitation of the much superior Clerks. Empire Records does not elicit many laughs or emotions, but where it lacks it makes up for with a good soundtrack and a 90s nostalgic vibe. There is something to be said about movies that represent their time, and while this movie does not do it nearly as well as Clerks, it definitely had a similar kind of energy to it. For a nice short, little nostalgia trip, Empire Records is definitely successful.
January 2, 2016
Loved this film. Loveable characters, great soundtrack and made me feel like I was back in my teens again. This is the record store where I would have love to worked.
December 9, 2015
With no idea of what to expect from Empire Records, I went into it solely off the basis of a friend's recommendation.

Like many of the coming of age films of the 1980's and 1990's, Empire Records is not a film with too much of a plot. The focus lies in the characters as the audience learns about their personalities as the narrative progresses. And like many films of the kind, Empire Records is important on the basis of the time it was produced in. It is a very 90's film, but the simple fact is that the 90's are over and it just doesn't have a timely appeal anymore.
Many of the themes are underdeveloped. Empire Records has the potential to talk about changing times and use music as an allegory, discussing the changing tastes in music and the way the corporate conglomerate is taking over independent record stores. Instead, this is just left to be a subtextual implication of the narrative which isn't actually explored at all. I kept trying to figure out what Empire Records had to say about its people or if it was making commentary on the youth culture of the 1990's, but in all honesty I kept drawing blanks. I felt the same sense of disillusioned youth whose free spirit collided with a world which was bent on moving forward without them, but that is honestly a cliche of coming of age films. I got a sense of nostalgia from seeing another film of this genre and listening enjoying the soundtrack, but as a genuine narrative piece I couldn't feel intellectually stimulated. The energy of the film makes it easy to watch as does the somewhat humourous tone, but Empire Records is not the insightful coming of age piece that it apparently wants to be. It has moments of charm and some occasional comedic zing along the way, but as a whole the film just doesn't come together in balancing comedy and drama. Neither of them are consistently good.
As well as that, the characters are wasteful. Empire Records has characters such as Joe Reaves who is a father figured to the troubled youths of the story and Deb who is driven to attempted suicide by her desire to stop being invisible, but the relationships these characters share with each other deserve much more than the treatment Allan Moyle gives to them. And since there is a talented collection of actors in the cast you would hope that they would find some way to innovate things, but the fact that the story has no idea how to use them leaves their charms only capable of carrying the film so far. There are a lot of dominant characters in Empire Records who all have their own extensive relevance, and though the film fails to actually do anything with them, it has no problems with piling them up so much that the film becomes uncontrollably confusing to completely keep up with. I enjoyed looking back on the film and seeing accomplished actors like Anthony LaPaglia, Renee Zellwegger and Liv Tyler in early roles, but despite the film providing them a step in the right direction the gimmick of having them all pinned together in the same film did not pay off since it failed to live up to the standards that they are known for.
Still, the film is not bereft of fun. Set in a record store, Empire Records is set up to have a strong soundtrack which is one thing it lives up to. The music is very energetic and captures the spirit of its decande easily, giving the feature the energy that it needs to keep moving along and brigthen up the spirits of whatever viewers may find fondness in the material. Though it is mainly the cast who really carry Empire Records to any level of success.
Anthony LaPaglia is the standout of the cast. Being the one sensible thinking amid a crowd of lost youths, Anthony LaPaglia naturally gives off a feeling of being a paternal character even if the story doesn't support his efforts in doing so. He conveys a tense nature and looks towards the other characters with a genuine sense of care for them, interacting with them as equals. Though hampered by the script, Anthony LaPaglia proves to be the one actor who sufficiently develops his characters across the narrative and therefore makes a stand as a truly talented actor. Anthony LaPaglia's dramatic charms are a particular asset to Empire Records.
Liv Tyler also delivers a strong effort. With all the glorious beauty of one of her youngest performances, Liv Tyler brings a charming attitude to the part while also adding a sense of shattered innocence to the dramatic elements of the film. She is able to channel her emotions at any instant she deems appropriate, and though the narrative may oscillate awkwardly between different kinds of drama she has no problem keeping up with it. Liv Tyler provides an effective insight into the dramatic talents that would flourish in the succeeding years and is able to elevate the credibility of Empire Records in the process.
Renee Zellweger also makes a stand. Arguably the most notorious cast member of Empire Records as the one of them all who would go on to win an Academy Award out of multiple nominations, Renee Zellweger is perhaps the most interesting to look back on. Bringing a natural teenage charm to her role while retaining the critically acclaimed dramatic talents she would become known for, Renee Zellweger remains notable in Empire Records for sharing a powerful chemistry with the surrounding actors and for having the essence of a genuine free spirit. She has proven many times to work well in both comedy and drama, and Empire Records makes use of this since she adheres to both themes whenever the material calls on her to do so. Renee Zellweger is great to look back on.
Having just seen Johnny Witworth deliver an atrocious performance in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, it is refreshing to see that in a much earlier role he still had some passionate charm and charisma to give to the world of cinema. He has a handsome appeal and naturally energetic charm. And Robin Tunney offers a dark edge to the material while Maxwell Caulfield perfectly captured the self-obsessed and deluded charms of Rex Manning.
Brendan Sexton III easily captures the nature of a lost youth, but during some of the more dramatic moments in the film he doesn't seem to grasp the edge that he wants and instead comes off as feeling artificial. And sometimes, it still feels like he is trying to be funny in scenes that should be dramatic which creates an unfortunate tonal imbalance. So Brendan Sexton III doesn't rank alongside the standards of the others around him.

So Empire Records boasts a talented cast and a groovy soundtrack, but its lack of balance between comedy and drama, underdeveloped themes and lack of direction in establishing any sense of meaning ensures that it is little more than a stylish distraction.
½ November 24, 2015
Empire Records is a small, independent record shop managed by Joe (Anthony LaPaglia). The store is set in an unnamed city in Delaware, and, like the employees, is eclectic and unique. The staff is very much a self-created family, with Joe as the reluctant and perpetually exasperated but loveable father figure. Joe allows one day the nighttime manager Lucas (Rory Cochrane) to close the store for his first time. While counting the day's receipts, Lucas discovers that Empire Records is about to be converted into a branch of Music Town, a franchise music store. In an attempt to save the store, Lucas takes the day's cash receipts to a casino in Atlantic City. While initially very lucky, he loses the entire amount in one bet on a dice table. Instead of going home (since he lives with Joe), he sleeps on his motorcycle outside the store, where he is found the following morning by opening manager A.J. (Johnny Whitworth) and fellow employee Mark (Ethan Embry). He confides in the pair about the previous night's events before riding away. Joe arrives to help open the store and is phoned by both the bank and the store owner, Mitchell Beck (Ben Bodé), about the missing deposit. Joe is distracted from dealing with this immediate crisis due to a scheduled store event: Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield), a former 80's pop idol, is due to arrive to sign autographs and promote his new album. No one is really looking forward to "Rex Manning Day", and many of the fans coming in for autographs are either older women or gay men. The employees secretly tease Rex behind his back about his fading career, and even his assistant Jane (Debi Mazar) later reveals her distaste for Rex's music. Lucas returns after the store opens and Joe confronts him about the missing deposit. After telling him of his short misadventure, Lucas is asked to stay in the store until a plan is devised to return the $9,000. Next to arrive are cashier Corey (Liv Tyler), an overachieving high school student, and her uninhibited best friend and fellow cashier Gina (Renée Zellweger), both of whom are told Lucas' secret. Soon thereafter arrive hostile and suicidal employee Deb (Robin Tunney), and boyfriend Berko (Coyote Shivers), who seem to be in the midst of an unresolved lover's quarrel; both are aware of Lucas' secret. The afternoon continues to spiral downward. A young shoplifter who identifies himself only as Warren Beatty (Brendan Sexton III) is apprehended outside the store by Lucas and arrested. Encouraged by Gina, Corey's school-girl crush on Rex is pushed to its limits--much to the horror of her friends, including A.J., who is infatuated with her. Can they pull through together? And more importantly, can they keep their record store independent and not swallowed up by corporate greed?

"Empire Records" did poorly at the box office and received generally negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes consensus was: "Despite a terrific soundtrack and a strong early performance from Renee Zellweger, Empire Records is mostly a silly and predictable teen dramedy." Roger Ebert called the film a "lost cause," but presciently wrote that some of the actors might have a future in other, better films; LaPaglia, Cochrane, Embry, Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney all went on to achieve significantly greater fame. Despite its poor box office performance, the film has established something of a cult classic status. I never saw this when it came out in 1995 and to be honest it feels very 90s dated when seeing it today. It´s more or less a 90s version of "The Breakfast Club", but doesn´t have the script, storyline, acting nor general set up as the predecessor. The characters are so very stereotypical and put together via "Teen Drama characters for Dummies" and their bratty/selfcentered attitude is just over the top and yet has Allan Moyle tried to make them "indie" and cool kids which fails in my point of view. The film never really makes you believe in any of the characters compared to for example Cameron Crowe´s excellent "Singles". It´s a stage production more or less and that is too obvious. Some solid songs on the soundtrack, but this only becomes a footnote in the teen drama genre. Trivia: The film was severely edited in post-production, removing three significant characters and up to 40 minutes of film. The story was also condensed down from occurring over two days to a single day. That might be part of the problem so to speak.
½ November 24, 2015
Enjoyable, I felt Lucas was left unexplained
October 24, 2015
Initially, this lost a whole star due to the simple (and unfair) fact that I was not as young as I was 20 years ago when I last watched this (like d'uh). But then it gained it back due to the use of The The's 'This is the day' at the end. Watch it before you turn cynical and old and teenage angst is an embarrassing memory.
August 25, 2015
Okay, I can't explain why I love this movie so much. The pace of the unrealistic movie with little in the way of character development is fast but maybe it's best not to dwell on some of the sadness and just go forward the way it does. I found this fun although still don't know what's with the dog on the poster.
½ August 22, 2015
- I have seen this too many times to count now. Great cast of young actors who have all gone on to bigger things. It's got a killer soundtrack and is quite funny. Worth a watch!

- I have seen this one many, many times and still find it entertaining. It's amazing how many of the cast went on to have really successful careers. A fun movie definitely worth checking out.
Super Reviewer
½ June 21, 2015
One of those cult films that grew popular after initially dying at the box office. Good music and a cast of everybody upcoming for the time period. Everybody is having fun but the idiot minded critics
May 12, 2015
Charming as hell, especially if you're a music fan of the time. Sad that the era of proper record stores is on borrowed time...
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2015
Love this movie. It's definitely one for those who were around in this decade, though. I don't think teens today would necessarily love it. It's a bit silly, sure, but great soundtrack, great cast. Rex Manning is hilarious.
Best role for Renee Zellweger and Liv Tyler. And very young Brandon Sexton.
Wish I could have worked in such a great store back in the day!
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