Empire Records

“Damn the man! Save the Empire!” Barely released in 1995 — the soundtrack (one of the great ones, by the way) got more play than the movie did — this can best be described as the best Kevin Smith movie Smith never directed. Plotlessly and very often hilariously, the sharp script (by Carol Heikkinen) follows a day in the life of the flailing New Jersey shop Empire Records, which may soon be swallowed up by the corporate store Music Town. An anecdotal comedy like this lives or dies on the charisma of its ensemble, and this is a decidedly fun group to spend 90 minutes with; everyone’s great here, most notably Anthony LaPaglia as Empire’s irritable manager, Ethan Embry as the hyper wannabe-rock star Mark, Rory Cochrane as the philosophical Lucas, Robin Tunney as the morbid, shaven-headed Deb, Renee Zellweger as the impetuous Gina, Liv Tyler as the Harvard-bound Corey (who wants to sleep with visiting pop star Rex Manning, played with maximum smarm by Maxwell Caulfield), and Brendan Sexton III as the belligerent shoplifter “Warren.” For a taste of some of the classic lines and exchanges, go here. This has gained a cult on video for a reason. Discover why. I own the “remix” DVD (as well as the original version) but haven’t bothered to watch it.

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