Pump Up the Volume

1990

Pump Up the Volume

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

79%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 33

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 35,454
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Pump Up the Volume Photos

Movie Info

Teenage angst finds a new voice in this drama. By day, Mark Hunter (Christian Slater) is a quiet, studious student at an ordinary suburban high school in Arizona. But at night, Mark creeps down into his basement, fires up his pirate radio transmitter, and broadcasts to the community as Hard Harry, a sexually obsessed social commentator who passes along angry philosophy about the state of teenage life when not blasting punk rock or gangsta rap cuts. Hard Harry's sworn nemesis is high school principal Mrs. Cresswood (Annie Ross), who keeps SAT scores up at the expense of her students' dignity and individuality by eliminating "troublemakers" from the student body. Hard Harry's broadcasts, however, have become a rallying point for the school's misfit underclass, and Mrs. Cresswood is determined to track down the mystery student and bring him to justice (broadcasting without a license, he's not merely an annoyance, but a criminal). The war against Hard Harry intensifies when he broadcasts data from confidential school board reports; Mark's father is a school commissioner, but he has no idea what his son is doing in the basement. Meanwhile, Mark gains the attentions of Nora (Samantha Mathis), who has figured out who he becomes at night. More serious and intelligent than the average teen film, Pump Up the Volume was written and directed by Allan Moyle, who previously dealt with disaffected, music-obsessed teens in Times Square and would return to them with Empire Records.

Cast

Christian Slater
as Mark Hunter/Hard Harry
Andy Romano
as Murdock
Annie Ross
as Mrs. Creswood
Jill Jaress
as Mrs. Kaiser
LaLa
as Janie
Nigel Gibbs
as Marshall
James Hampton
as Arthur Watts
Clayton Landey
as Shep Sheppard
Billy Morrissette
as Mazz Mazzilli
Robert Schenkkan
as David Deaver
Allan Kolman
as Postal Clerk
David McKnight
as Detective #1
Tony Auer
as Police Officer
Robert Harvey
as Detective Denny
Steve Archer
as Harry Video
Lin Shaye
as PTA Parent #3
Roger Scott
as TV Announcer #1 / Crispin
Gary Dubin
as TV Announcer #2
Marc Siegler
as Teacher Stern
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News & Interviews for Pump Up the Volume

Critic Reviews for Pump Up the Volume

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (5)

  • The perfectly cast Slater effectively propels the film, his intensity and dry delivery giving it a definite edge, as does a soundtrack which includes Ice T, Concrete Blonde and the Cowboy Junkies.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's a howl from the heart, a relentlessly involving movie that gives a kid every reason to believe that he or she can come of age.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • As a movie, 'Pump Up the Volume' is a lot like a teenager: at times unbearably self-important and pretentious (Nora's poems, good lord), yet undeniably, and admirably, earnest.

    May 27, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Sharply uneven, this teen-angst feature begins exgremely well with some relevant social commentary; it also put on the map Christian Slater as a talent to watch.

    Jan 8, 2012 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Slater is Moyle's generator, powering the film through some sludgy melodramatics, and while his separation of Mark and Hard Harry is practically Kabuki theater, the effort is just wonderful.

    Aug 30, 2010 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • Much more than a teen movie....an experience, and one you'll never forget. TURN IT UP LOUD!

    Mar 3, 2006 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Pump Up the Volume

  • Feb 28, 2012
    Slater does it again, this catapults straight into my top 10 alongside 'Heathers' another Slater movie that I watche and while back and have been repeatedly watching since. This movie really speaks to me and I think what it has to say about youth still stands today: We're not ourselves, we live by other peoles standards, can't we just be free?
    Cameron S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 24, 2012
    A silly little Christian Slater movie. Actually I think the successful Christian Slater movies were the ones that kept him off the screen for most of the time. Christian is sad because his little pirate radio station was busted. Boo hoo.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • May 29, 2011
    Christian Slater then: raspy-voiced star of rebellious teen movies that were adored by adolescents and greeted indifferently by critics. Christian Slater now: raspy-voiced star of direct-to-video thrillers that have a shorter shelf life than the TV series he makes. On the plus side, teens and critics now agree with a shared indifference.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    Slater is so hot in this movie! This rebellious teen drama is full of both angst and celebration of being a teenager at the turn of the decade. I really loved it when I was a teen, and I highly recommend it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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