Instead of the authenticity this movie craved, Empire Records ends up feeling like more of an attempt to cash in on punk music, acid wash jeans, and teen angst than an homage to the actual culture it was emulating.
The eponymous Empire Records store is being taken over by The Man– more specifically, the sterilized, corporate entity: Music Town. In an act of rebellion, and brash decision making, one of the store’s managers takes all the money in a cash register and gambles in Atlantic City in order to make enough money to save the store. Unfortunately, quite the opposite happens and thousands of dollars are lost, leaving the crew in an even bigger predicament.
Resigned to their fate, the employees of Empire Records live as though that day is their last by having dance parties on the store’s floor, holding mini-funerals for depressed coworkers, and even befriending misguided teen that threatens to shoot up the store (all of these things actually happen). In the end, they decide to hold a huge concert to raise money and buy the store from the seedy, corporate owner. They succeed and all is well.
It’s difficult to summarize the film, only because, at times, it feels more like a prolonged music video than a bonafide film; the songs are great and are only undermined by spastic dancing and pointless vignettes. You need a 90s, record store fix, watch High Fidelity.
Matt: 1.75/5 Gabe: 2.00/5 Xan: 3.50/5