a critiQal film review Pump Up the Volume (1990)

  • DVD

Plot: There is a new voice on the radio these days. To his fans, he's Hard Harry. To his parents, he's Mark Hunter (Slater). He starts a pirate radio show that throws the little town of Paradise Hills, Arizona into an uproar. Fed up with the high school he attends, and it's sometimes illegal practices, Mark Hunter goes on the air to speak out. Now, with the whole school behind the shock jock Hard Harry, Mark must decide what's more important: his secret identity, or free speech.

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  • ...get in touch with your teenage angst again!

A teen rebel movie with a twist. That’s the best way to sum up Pump Up The Volume. The movie is at times shocking, at times a bit cheesy, but it’s message of free speech is a good one.

Since this came out a few years ago, though, it’s amazing how times have changed. Listening to Harry, you don’t really know what people are complaining about, what with Howard Stern and people like him now on syndicated radio programs.

Christian Slater does a good job here of showing us both sides of his character: the quiet, shy guy by day, the free-spirited radio personality by night. Even though he does have a few cheesy lines to speak, he gets through it believably. The other characters are also done okay, but are pretty stereotypical, and don’t really add much to the movie.

The plot has a definite message, but sticks with that message throughout the movie, unlike other message movies that tend to stray (Shallow Hal (2001), for example).

Basing a movie on free speech has been done before (The People Vs. Larry Flynt, for one), but to bring it from a teenage perspective is a great twist. Everybody knows teenagers are messed up in society today anyway, so it’s nice to have a movie expressing that.

The characters could have been a bit less stereotypical, true, and the teenagers didn’t need to act quite so much like lemmings, taking everything Harry says and tripling it’s effect, but all in all, a thought-provoking film, nonetheless.

The DVD itself leaves a bit to be desired. With the only special feature being the theatrical trailer, it lacks a bit in the extras department. They could have least have thrown in a music video or a behind-the-scenes special, or something. Heck, even a couple of deleted scenes would have been nice. None of that here though.

Pump Up The Volume is still a thought-provoking movie, although teens will probably relate more to it than adults will. I know when I saw it years ago it seemed to have much more of an impact than watching it nowadays.

If you’re a teen, or an adult who feels that you’ve lost touch with your teenage angst, it’s definitely worth a rental.

Pump Up The Volume folks, and keep free speech alive.

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