Pump Up the Volume Reviews
Not many seem to know about this film, myself included, but you should all watch it if you can. I'm glad I was introduced to it (by someone who loves it...and rightly so.)
It is ultimately about rebellion, internal and external, and fighting the system when it's representatives seek to place and keep you in a neat little box. Nicely labelled. We are dealing with teens in the early nighties, so the angst is directed at their parents as well as 'the man'. The main message at the film's core is about freedom, being who you really are and staying true to yourself, whoever that may be.
Christian Slater is excellent in this (one of his earliest) and fits perfectly as the shy and geeky mark and his darkly comic DJ alter ego, Hard Harry. You cannot help but like him and his 'screw the system' attitude. His random diatribes are crude, funny and then often quite deep, resonating with his pirate radio audience and the viewer alike. There are themes covering freedom of speech, broken families and suicide, so the film does not shy away from making a statement.
Very well acted by all concerned, particularly Slater and Samantha Mathis. Mathis is spot on here as the gothy rebel who cracks the shell and forces her way into Mark's world.
The soundtrack is awesome too and echos many of the themes of the film (as well as just being some fantastic tunes). It is used with precision, intertwined into important parts of the story (as you would expect from a film about pirate radio) before subtly moving to the background to simply compliment the action.
I can see why this film will have spoken to many that watched it on it's release and I wish I had seen it as a teen in the 90's, when it was most relevant. It still speaks to me...but as an adult, with an entirely different outlook on life. This is a film to entertain but also to inspire.
Take from it what you will.
"Talk hard, I like that. It's like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind."
Pump Up the Volume is the tale of teen pirate radio host Happy Harry Hard-on, broadcasting his intensely rebellious, radical, anti-authority message. The popularity of his radio persona and influence over his classmates eventually lands him in the ring with the FCC. It stars Christian Slater with as much charismatic angst as you could possibly hope for.
This movie was part of a series of screenings for New Line Cinema class. I felt like taking a moment to write on Pump Up the Volume, because it really irks me to see people of my age constantly laughing at movies like this. I concede that it is a little outdated and a little extreme in its message, but it isn't stupid. I'm not trying to come off as if I take this movie 100% seriously, but I did find something worthwhile in it. It is relentlessly entertaining, and while I don't plan to go set fire to something or vandalize my school, the message is a positive one if not taken so literally.
The people who make fun of this movie and others like it are shutting themselves off from finding anything to take away from it. Pointing out every detail of 1990 outrageousness is a profound waste of time. Movies like this are great and absolutely deserve our time, because they give us a wonderful view into the past. I'm not sure why this film gets less attention than Brat Pack and John Hughes canon, but it's definitely worth noting. It's far edgier and angrier than its 1980s counterparts.
I don't see anything delirious or exasperating about Pump Up the Volume. The performances certainly weren't dreadful-- I thought they were quite good. It's very funny, but it isn't laughable in the way that modern audiences feel the need to make it. For all movies we find dated, Let it be what it was meant be.
90% -- Give it a chance.
Slater is fantastic as the shy kid that barely speaks by day, the most important voice on radio by night. I'm not sure this film will be for everyone, as much of the film is just Slater ranting for awhile to his radio audience.
But as a teenager growing up, I remember dealing with a lot of these problems and my school was no different in that nearly all the adults didn't care about you. They just wanted you to pass their classes and get out of their sites, never offering to give a listening ear or some much needed guidance.
The music in the film is stuff I hated growing up, but have come to enjoy more as an adult.
I just wish the ending would have been stronger. Like I wanted another ten minutes to see what happened.
And Samantha Mathis in her first role is very good as well. She not only nails her part, but is not above throwing her clothes off either! :)
And Buffy fans, look for very early roles from Juliet Landau and Seth Green; Green's hair is so awful.