Movie night! Movie night! One day late! But that’s okay! So yes, I’m a day late. But I had a good reason! First, I had a migraine. Second, well . . . that was the reason. But it’s fine now! We’re all under control and we’re all in this together and I would never abandon you. And I feel better and thanks for the birthday wishes and WHAT SHALL WE WATCH.
Obviously I already have the answer and you already knew because you clicked on the link with the title: Empire Records.
So, oh my GOD, this movie, am I right? First, please let the record (hi-oh!) (get it?) (here all week!) state that yes, I already re-visited it for the wonderful Low Times, but I looked at Corey specifically and her journey and teenagehood and it is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT so please read that too if you grew up on Empire Records the way that I did.
SECOND, youth. YOUTH! I watched this movie TO EXCESS circa 2001 in grade 11 and the obsession was something I can only compare to nothing else in the world because guys, I had a GeoCities fan site and everything. It was a big deal. I had my ICQ info box chalk-full of quotes, and then even years later, my friends and I dressed up like Corey, Lucas and Gina (me) for a costume party. Now, looking back, yes, it is not the GREATEST made movie in the world, but you know what? Nobody cares. Because if you grew up on it, it could literally be two people just sitting on a bench and if it got you through even a MONTH of being a teenager, it is brilliant. Right? Right.
So remember, I mock with love. Always with love. Empire Records, I will always love you.
1. Closing the store IS a big responsibility
So who here has worked retail. All of us? WHAT UP. Remember the first time you were allowed to close the store by yourself? I hated it. Hated it! It really was the worst. The first time I closed American Eagle, it was because of an emergency, I was beyond sick, the then-manager refused to come in, and we were somehow off by about $1000 because I had actually never even been taught how to close correctly and it was also at Christmas. WHY. Anywho. Lucas I don’t know why is closing the store without anyone to co-sign the deposit or make sure he doesn’t steal, so here’s to probably the worst-run store I had ever seen in my life so maybe let’s not be surprised that Lucas went to Atlantic City just because he could.
2. But seriously WHY ATLANTIC CITY
Out of every option he had! Any option! ALL OF THE OPTIONS! He thought, “Oh! I’ll gamble it!” Not investments? Not … just asking Joe about MusicTown just for a joke first? Maybe just not NOT gambling it? What’s wrong with this person? Even as a kid I was like, “Something is wrong with this guy.” And especially because this movie was made in 1995, $9000 is basically $92582525 so REALLY why Atlantic City even more.
3. Ugh I am watching the uncut version and it is the worst
Okay I love this movie, you guys. Obviously. I mean, HELLO WE ALL LOVE THIS MOVIE. But the uncut version? No. Why. WHY DID THEY DO THIS. Nobody wants to see the uncut DVD because it is not the same! Also, I obviously have the VHS version memorized and now everything’s been thrown for a loop thanks to what I guess the big shots thought was a favour? We’re all on the same page, right pals? Is everyone else thrown by Lucas letting that girl in before he goes to Atlantic City? DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT? Somebody please tell me you understand.
4. Also, woah AJ, let’s dial it down
First, we all love AJ. We love him. He’s so cute and so artsy (a little too artsy for me because he glues coins to the ground and I don’t get it, I’m sorry) and so nice, but yiiiiiiikes, dropping the l-bomb without any sort of segway? Like, this is the plan: completely unwarranted, he plans to tell Corey he loves her. THEY ARE NOT DATING. They’re just friends! Maybe begin with “I have a crush on you”? Maybe “I like you”? Maybe even … just basically anything but saying “I love you” without any sort of invitation? Just ANY OTHER THING, BASICALLY, THAN THIS. Start small, AJ. Start with “you’re pretty and/or cool.”
5. Okay but now he’s watching her kind of during “Romeo and Juliet” . . .
And obviously I’m not made of stone. I GET IT. I GET WHY WE LOVE AJ. All I’m saying is that I mean, say you LIKE her, just don’t drop the l-bomb without any rhyme or reason. Also, how do girls in movies never know someone is watching them? Am I just a paranoid person? Somebody looks at me too long and immediately I’m all, “What? What’s the matter?” Especially if I am arranging CDs and he is LITERALLY standing there walking away and then coming back and still staring the whole time like AJ was just doing? HOW IS COREY NOT NOTICING? Notice, Corey! Or make me feel better about myself by turning around and saying, “What? What’s the matter?”
My favourite character in this whole movie. Easily the best character. I mean, Lucas is all “Joe we’re ALL in some kind of trouble” (#philosophy) and AJ’s gluing coins to the ground (?) and Gina is . . . well, we’ll get to Gina later. But Deb! Minus actually trying to kill herself with a lady Bick, hello, her one-liners. Her shaved head! Her tendency not to give any number of cares about anything which is the best. (I mean, yes, obviously she does care, but she’s just so badass, you know?) Basically Deb rules. And I swear I’m not just saying that because she was also in The Craft.
7. But in what world does the bank call a store when there’s a problem with the deposit?
ALRIGHT. So this guy owns Empire Records, and Joe is the manager (?) of Empire Records, and Lucas absconds with $9000 FROM Empire Records and the bank calls first thing in the morning and asks about the deposit? Listen. I don’t want to encourage anybody to do anything illegal, but in no universe does the bank ever do that ever. First, they don’t really care who deposits what where. Second, they would never call…? Also, it would take a few weeks for anyone to even notice. BUT who am I to doubt the plot line. WHO AM I. I’m just a girl, standing in front of the television, asking you to run with my crazy plot allegations.
8. “Well Sinead O’Rebellion! Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behaviour!”
BOOM. DROPS MIC.
9. But this soundtrack for real, right?
I was in grade 11 when I first saw this movie, and in grade 11, that’s when I actually clued into music being “good” and “loving it” and it being more than just what played at various all ages club nights (enter: a very dark summer filled with bad decisions), so clearly the soundtrack to Empire Records played a phenomenal role in everything I held dear. First, VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR WHAT IS UP. Second, that “Money Money” bit. Third, I really need to relax with the numbering of things during this post. But that doesn’t matter! Now Warren is about to steal and what I really still need to wrap my head around is that the guy who plays him was that creepy guy in The Killing if anyone remembers WHICH I DO (clearly).
10. Mark’s band!
Okay wait but before we focus on “SHOPLIFTER!!!” let’s focus on Mark’s band, which, again, in grade 11, was my dream for various reasons. I mean, in addition to Mark (Ethan Embry — hi!) being super cute, I ALSO liked a dude named Mark who was ALSO in a band (“band”) (no but I am really not using air quotes enough here), and who was also into crazy punk rock. NOW, the downside was that he was in no way fun or great like Ethan Embry’s Mark. In fact, he was arguably worthy of a blog post on what “the worst” means. BUT when you’re 16 and your judgement is clouded, he was EXACTLY like Mark who was going to start a band called “Marc!” EXACTLY. like. him. (But not at all.)
11. Okay so maybe Gina is actually my favourite
Wow obviously you guys I am very torn on this whole issue. Deb clearly rules, but Gina is also HI-LARIOUS and her scene with the apron is the stuff of costume parties if you want to count the costume party I once attended dresses like Gina wearing an apron (and a tank top and shorts underneath because COME ON, are you kidding me right now?) Anyway. Gina is also the greatest, but I’m getting distracted by how . . .
12. Everyone being super mean to Jane, Rex Manning’s manager?
What gives? It’s not her fault that she’s the manager of a terrible individual. I mean, it’s a job, right? I get that they’re all, “DAMN THE MAN” but IN THE REAL WORLD sometimes you don’t always love parts of your job. So I mean, maybe let’s all just relax with the mocking considering this woman is just trying to pay her bills, okay TEENS? (Not you guys: if you’re a teen and you’re reading this, HI! And also, I know you would never just treat someone terribly just because you didn’t like somebody they worked for. That doesn’t even make any sense. I love y’all. I promise.)
13. I will say that what IS realistic is the way everyone acts at the cash desk
Now. I really prided myself on being a really great cashier at American Eagle. So much so that “I’m a GREAT cashier” became a running joke with everyone I worked with, and then the manager always just gave me cashier shifts because otherwise I wouldn’t shut up about being a “great cashier.” And this was three years ago. And you obviously had to be there because this story is TRAGICALLY un-funny otherwise. But what I loved most about cashier-ing was during Christmas when there were line-ups and the music was playing and me and my cashier friends turned into the worst versions of ourselves in the best possible way. Meaning: we laughed a lot and had inside jokes and maybe rapped along to “Christmas In Hollis” because we had all worked nine and ten hour days for five days in a row and were basically delirious with exhaustion. God, it was so great (in retrospect and definitely not DURING because I’d basically get to the point of hiding in the jeans in the back room by December 23 so I wouldn’t have to do anything resembling actual work). (I’m unemployable in any other industry than the one I’m in.)
14. Why is Burko carrying his guitar with him everywhere?
Okay so maybe you’re a musician and you’re reading this and if you are, what’s up how are you. I like your work. But PLEASE do not carry your instrument around just to tell everyone that you’re a musician like Burko slash Coyote Shivers is doing. Why is he doing this? He’s in a record store? And the guitar is electric so it’s not even like he can burst into song at a moment’s notice. He would literally have to search for an amp otherwise what he plays will literally sound like garbage. Even a tamborine, Burko. EVEN A TRIANGLE, would make more sense.
15. Oh no and now AJ has made the confession
UGHHHHHH this is exactly like Young Adult when Charlize makes that giant revelation at the party and I just had to laugh manically not to cry or leave the theatre. AHH that same feeling is happening right now. WHY AJ. WHY COREY. WHY EVERYONE. Can everyone just relax, please? Also, Corey, did you really think you and Rex Manning were going to hit it off? DID YOU? HE IS 48 YEARS OLD AT LEAST. Also, I mean, yes, obviously Rex is a garbage person, but whaaaaaat was going through your head, friend? YOU ARE BETTER THAN THAT. Friends: you are all better than that.
16. Also now Corey is just on a damage path and it’s probably the most terrible thing I’ve ever witnessed
Today. In movies. Like, not ever, that would be insane. My life would be AMAZING if this was the worst thing I had ever seen. BUT WHATEVER. So today, while watching this, Corey is now lashing out at EVERYONE and calling Gina a slut and trying to rekindle her feelings with AJ, and leaving that guy with the long hair at the table alone, and why. WHY. (I mean, I know why: she is addicted to speed and she is not adjusting well to being a teenage girl which, as teenage girls, we can all understand (not necessarily about the speed, though). But still. STILL.) Oh man and it’s about to get worse.
17. Because now AJ and Deb are making out?
What IS with today, today, everyone?! This is classic “Corey hurt me and I will seek revenge and everyone will pay fo my pain.” Oh boy. And poor Deb. And now his shirt is off at work? Imagine you guys did that at your jobs? Juuuuust making out with a guy and taking off his shirt at work because we are both co-workers and the music is on! EVERYBODY HURTS, YOU GUYS!
18. GAH and now Gina and Rex are hooking up and it is the part of the movie where everyone freaks out
Everyone. Everyone is freaking out. Joe is freaking out and beat up Lucas, AJ is freaking out and trying to beat up Rex, Corey is freaking out because Rex hooked up with Gina, Gina is freaking out at Corey and throwing her speed pills at her, Corey is freaking out and now needs to be held down by everyone … WHAT A BAD DAY. Did Daniel Powter see this movie? Because this is EXACTLY the kind of day I bet he sang about in that song “Bad Day” where the video featured Anna from The OC. Daniel, if you’re reading this, please confirm or deny.
This line. This scene. This was the scene I my friends and I quoted ALL THE TIME because we were obviously the coolest people in the entire world. Also, maybe a few of us had GeoCities sites (#NeverForget) dedicated to quotes from the movie …? Oh God, you guys. I really wish I had a time machine so we could all revisit ages 14 – 19 where I went from having “going clubbing” to having a GeoCities Empire Records page to just not going to class anymore. Remember, everyone: DON’T DO WHAT I DID.
20. AJ wants to go to art school
And that is great! Buuuuut it doesn’t seem he’s actually APPLIED? Like, he’s busting out “I want to go to art school” and that’s awesome, but has he applied or done anything other than be an artist? Like, Corey actually applied to Harvard and got in. And AJ just “wants” to “go to art school.” AJ YOU HAVE TO APPLY. YOU HAVE TO APPLY AND THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE. Or maybe don’t go? Maybe just be an artist instead? I don’t know — I’d be the worst guidance counsellor in the world. (“Um… wow. Yeah, so you like English? That’s cool. Maybe write books? You’ll figure it out. Want to watch The Office?”) (That’s my impression of myself as a guidance counsellor.)
21. HIS NAME ISN’T WARREN!
Well DUH everyone. I mean, did anyone actually think his name WAS Warren? WARREN BEATTIE IS AN ACTOR EVERYBODY.
22. “You think you’re so superior!”
Am I about to sound like a terrible human, but Warren KIND OF has a point. I feel like there are some really great record stores — Empire Records seems like a pretty great record store — but so many record stores I’ve visited have been filled with people who DO think they’re “so superior.” Right? Is ANYTHING worse than going into a record store and trying to be nice to somebody and the clerk is like, “Uh… yeah, I GUESS I’ll check.” And you’re like, “Um, you’re WORKING right now so yeah I GUESS you will.” Even when I didn’t want to fold jeans, I still had to pretend I loved folding jeans. Because that’s what retail is all about, everyone! Am I alone here? Am I alone in thinking that I would love going to record stores more if the people who worked there were actually really welcoming and nice and didn’t just stand behind the counter with their arms folded? WHY AREN’T ANY OF YOU GUYS LIKE GINA OR AJ. (And I know not all record stores are like this! Just some. SOME. Not all. Never all! We’re all friends here, everyone.)
23. And then the party at the end
WHICH IS THE BOMB. I know this thing would get super shut down immediately in real life because there’s no permit for any of it, but I still love it. I love it so much. And I also love that Coyote Shivers (who was dating Liv Tyler’s mom IRL?!) is playing music and that Lucas I guess was adopted by Joe (that’s what happened, right?) and Gina sings and everyone is drinking in the streets and AHHH YOUTH. Somebody have a shin-dig like this and invite me and hire me to work at a record store for a day because like I said, I am completely unemployable in any capacity aside from what I do right now.
24. DAMN THE MAN INDEED
Well no. I mean, I really did just get caught up in the excitement of the end of this movie, and “the man” is actually more of a figurehead than the actual thing (and also paying bills is necessary and we all have to make money and just BALANCE, you guys), but remember? Remember when saying this was a thing? (Maybe it was only a thing with my friends and our GeoCities friends?)(Who were actually just each other?) OH THE GOOD OLD DAYS. Now I feel like if I hear somebody say this I think, “Okay, well, clearly you don’t have to pay actual bills which must be nice” and I’m not impressed unless they’re LITERALLY just quoting the movie, and in that case HOLLER.
25. And it all worked out okay!
THANK GOODNESS because otherwise AJ was going to go to art school (I guess he DID apply) in Boston to be near Corey and if she didn’t end up with him that could have been awkward. Also, super awkward if they break up. BUT that’s okay! Dream on, kids! (Ahhh those crazy kids.) (Actually a little crazy too because Corey keeps shoving AJ? And it’s like… let’s just take a step back and calm down because you’re getting a little out of hand aka WHY ARE YOU SHOVING HIM.) And now everyone’s dancing! We’re all friends! It’s all under control! It’s Rex Manning Day! GIN BLOSSOMS.