Though it wasn’t a huge hit when initially released, Empire Records has gone on to become a cult hit. I was really young when it was first released in theaters in 1995. I wasn’t even in high school yet. I remember seeing the previews on TV, and the news stories about how Robin Tunney cut all of her hair off completely in one take during the filming. Perhaps that was the only big buzz about it, as critics panned it. I happened to see it late one night on cable during my high school insomniac years.
Regardless of what the haters said, Empire Records was fun, adorable and has cheered me up when I needed it. I have become friends with people who happened to mention liking the movie! There are countless gifs and Tumblr pages dedicated to it. And yes, I can quote probably the whole film. “Lucas, what are you doing in here?” Here are my reasons why you should watch it, because it’s still damn good!
1. A.J. & Corey
This is the classic tale of girl and boy who are best friends and work in the same place. Boy falls for girl, girl’s in love with semi-famous washed-up singer and hilarity ensues. Corey tries to throw herself at said washed-up singer, Rex Manning, and is disgusted by him. A.J., who absolutely has terrible timing, tries to tell a crying Corey that he’s in love with her. Poor kid. She only thinks of him as a friend!
2. Happy Rex Manning Day!
I can’t tell you how many times I thought about celebrating Rex Manning Day – not to celebrate the character of Rex Manning, because let’s face it, he was a total jerk! Still, the day that Rex Manning came to Empire Records to sign autographs is the day that A.J. finally told Corey that he loved her! It’s the day of Deb’s faux funeral! It was also the day that Eddie brought Mark some “special brownies”.
3. The Soundtrack
The movie takes place in a record store, so of course there’s music over almost every single scene! Remember when everyone loved the Gin Blossoms? “Til I Hear It From You” is featured predominantly. Also on the soundtrack, The Cranberries, Cracker, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You”. Okay, maybe you don’t 100% remember all of these bands, but trust me, the soundtrack really helped make the movie.
4. Damn the Man, Save the Empire!
The gang finds out the store is being turned into a MusicTown! Oh no! So goofy stoner Mark decides to throw a huge party and invite everyone in the area to come on down to save the empire! People start buying up everything in site, and Berko’s band, with Gina as the lead singer, performs on the roof.
5. Everyone learns a lesson… sort of
Gina learns that she doesn’t have to sleep with every guy to be taken seriously. I think that’s what she learned. Everyone learns that Corey is taking speed to stay awake and study and get good grades. She learns she shouldn’t be… well, that’s not exactly talked about after the big reveal. Deb learns to love herself… I think? And Corey learns what true love is. Okay, perhaps there are a few plot holes in there.
6. The Actors
Who didn’t fall in love with Ethan Embry as Mark? How cute was this clueless character? He started a band with the same name, only spelled Marc. Liv Tyler was adorable as the Harvard-bound Corey! Renee Zellweger was Gina, the boy-crazy clerk and Corey’s best friend! Robin Tunney, who’s awesome in everything (remember The Craft?!) is there, too. Johnny Whitworth is the lovable artist A.J. who just seems to be having a rough go of it. He’s brooding and smart and you can’t help but to feel sorry for him! Also in the cast, a young Tobey Maguire, or so I heard. I even looked in the “Fan Remix” DVD re-release and I still can’t find him! If you’ve seen him in this film, comment below please!
7. Poor Lucas
He wasn’t supposed to leave the couch. When he did, it was to chase after shoplifter Warren (whose real name we never found out). He thought he was doing a good thing by stealing money from the store and going to gamble it in Atlantic City. He thought he could stop Empire Records from becoming a MusicTown. If you haven’t seen the movie and want to know how it actually ends (did it become a Music Town?) then I’m not going to totally spoil it for you!
Gifs via Tumblr