Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Renée Zellweger, Maxwell Caulfield
Director: Allan Moyle
Running Time: 95 mins
Empire Records is an American film about an independent record shop, under threat from being taken over by a big chain, whose zany employees try everything to prevent that from happening.
This may be an easy-going cult favourite, but that doesn’t escape the fact that it’s really not that interesting or funny. The comedy is pretty weak and the characters are pretty one-dimensional, leaving this as nothing more than your average teen comedy.
However, there are good things about this film, so let’s start with them. Mainly, the soundtrack is pretty cool, adding to the atmosphere of the record shop really well and making this a little bit more fun to watch from time to time.
Meanwhile, all of the performances are quite good. From Anthony LaPaglia to Renée Zellweger, the actors all do a decent job here at energising their somewhat bland characters and again making the film a bit more entertaining.
The plot takes place almost entirely within the record shop, in effectively the same style as a TV sitcom. On the one hand, it’s pretty impressive how they manage to make the entire story stay within that one setting, thereby making this a much easier watch, and don’t make it known so much.
On the other hand, that’s one of the things about this film that just isn’t that interesting. The story stagnates hugely at points throughout, and the lack of setting change doesn’t help it progress at all. As a result, the film can become quite dull in places, and not particularly captivating to watch.
The worst thing about this film, however, is the characters. Despite the strong performances, all of the characters here are either annoying, dull or just extremely plain. They all have the various qualities of your average high school environment (i.e. the goth, the promiscuous girl, the druggy, the philosophical one etc. etc.), and yet none of them really have any strong background as to why they do the things they do.
Even the one character (the goth) whose background is revealed to some extent is still pretty uninteresting, despite its more dramatic nature, which is a real shame. But in general, every person in this film is just a stereotype that you have basically no reason to care about, and that’s why this gets a 6.5 from me.