It's Rex Manning Day! Liveblogging the '90s: Empire Records
Today is April 8th, which as any self-respecting fan of Empire Records knows, it’s Rex Manning Day, the day 20 years ago now that the fictional pop star had a scheduled appearance in the struggling record store in Empire Records.
To celebrate this occasion, here’s a live blog of Empire Records.
0:01:23 - I miss Renee Zellweger so much, you guys. Where did she go? What did you do to her? SHE DESERVED BETTER THAN YOUR MOCKERY.
0:02:38 - This movie has already employed my two favorite things: that thing where a character reads words out loud from a piece of paper that appears on screen, so not only is it wholly unnatural but wholly unnecessary, and also that thing in movies where there’s a picture of a building and then a clear plastic sheet that goes over that picture that shows BAM FANCY FUTURE BUILDING WITH STUFF AND NEON AND FUTURE AND MODERN! I know it was in another movie too, not just this one. I can’t remember what it was. Something in my head tells me it was the made-for-television film Pleasures starring Joanna Cassidy, Barry Bostwick and Tracy Nelson, and it might not be, but that is far too specific a thought to have. Also, did I mention cough syrup? PURPLE DRANK. Oh, right, there’s a movie on. BRB.
0:03:04 - So Lucas has grossly inappropriate reactions to things and makes major decisions without further inquiry. That’s fine. My bigger concern is that this movie takes place in Delaware (also, this movie apparently takes place in Delaware) and it’s about a two-hour ride to Atlantic City, and at no point in this fairly lengthy drive did he not realize, oh, poor decision. Lucas is mildly to moderately unwell.
0:04:06 - I mean, in the first six minutes of this movie, one of our heroes just blows over $9,000 (technically $18,000) and ruins everything. This will be a common theme, but I don’t know why we root for anyone in this movie. Everyone is awful. Adorably awful, but awful.
0:06:44 - It suddenly occurs to me that this movie is why I was so nervous during that scene in the all-Eccleston episode of The Leftovers. I was totally waiting for Pastor Matt to pull a Lucas.
0:07:26 - With our first Rex Manning reference, I feel like this is a safe enough space to talk about my Grease 2 problem, and, more specifically, my 1982 Maxwell Caulfield problem. I mean, LOOK AT THIS.
I GET YOU, GINA LATER IN THIS MOVIE.
0:08:30 - This movie is 60% teen angst,40% Joe angst. It is 100% angst. Everyone has FEELINGS. And bangs. Bangs and feelings. Their hair is as floppy as their emotions.
0:09:44 - You know, when you really break down this one day at a record store in Delaware (because apparently this movie takes place in Delaware—guys, I genuinely didn’t know until today that this movie took place in Delaware and it’s blowing my mind) a lot of shit goes down. Burglary, guns, suicide attempts, speed addictions, declarations of love, Gwar hallucinations, copy machine sex, corporate overthrowage, jobs being quit, Debi Mazar’s haircut, it is too much. IT IS TOO MUCH.
0:11:33 - Liv Tyler just threw a peanut M&M at Ethan Embry. YOU DO NOT WASTE PEANUT M&MS LIV TYLER. They should have known about her speed problem in that exact moment.
0:13:05 - Best part of the movie, people. BEST PART OF ANY MOVIE, PEOPLE.
0:14:12 - You know, we never find out where Lucas went in between waking up on his motorcycle and coming back in to work. He’s wearing the same clothes, so I feel like “home to shower” is the wrong answer. Until proven otherwise I choose to believe he attempted to gigalo himself to make the money back.
0:18:11 - So, Robin Tunney is shaving her head because of Coyote Shivers and I just fell down a Google rabbit hole and discovered, DEB, HONEY, HE’S NOT WORTH IT. Grade-A creeper. Also, he’s apparently Liv Tyler’s former step-father. Seriously, he was married to her mom, Bebe Buell. Then he was married to the gothy girl from NCIS. Also he’s scary. EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED AND IT IS TERRIFYING IN THE LIGHT.
0:18:17 - That said, maybe Deb just shaved her head because her hair at the beginning of this movie is some busted nonsense. Sometimes it’s best to just start fresh.
0:19:18 - Was this pre-meditated hair murder? Or is there just always scissors and electronic clippers in the record store bathroom? I do respect that she clocked in after the shaving though. That would have been a waste of work time.
0:20:40 - AJ is yelling at the girl who attempted suicide because AJ is a whiny little butthole this whole movie. When Lucas is the voice of reason, your existence must be reevaluated.
0:21:32 - Let’s play a game called Is There a Purely Likeable Character In This Movie? Everyone loses! Everyone needs ALL THE THERAPY.
0:22:21 - Actually, the stoners come out the best in the end. Eddie and Marc. And I don’t think Eddie even works there. He is just…there. But my favorite character is Gina. She makes poor vagina decisions BUT YOU DON’T GET TO JUDGE HER FOR THAT IT’S HER BODY AND SHE DOESN’T CONFORM TO YOUR IDEALS.
0:25:55 - A tragic part of growing up is watching this or other anti-establishment type movies or, like, listening to Rent, whatever, and realizing that you’ve grown up and now understand the point of THE MAN or whatever. I mean, damn the man and all, but LUCAS YOU STILL CAN’T JUST STEAL $10,000. THAT’S STILL NOT OK! And he is ultimately rewarded for his theft, because theft with good intentions is a good thing and holy crap is Lucas Robin Hood? No that doesn’t make sense, it just makes medicine sense.
0:28:36 - When I was 16 I worked i a bookstore and it was actually a lot like this because book people and music people are quite similar because we all think we’re better than everyone else, only one of the managers got fired for stealing anime porn. I don’t know if that happens at record stores. Maybe.
0:30:57 - I just really need to talk about Renee Zellweger. Like, Renee, if you’re reading this, come back to us. WE NEED YOU. Those mean people? They’re really sorry about that stuff they said about your face. They’re real dicks. You’re a fucking treasure. COME BACK.
0:32:08 - Guys, Warren gets offered a job at the end of this movie. EVERYONE IS REWARDED FOR BEING AWFUL.
0:33:08 - Did you know that Rex Manning is married to Witch Tabitha from Passions? And is therefore Hayley Mills’s brother-in-law? And his wife is 18 years older than he is? You get it, Juliet Mills. You know Spike ships it.
0:34:35 - In Rex’s defense, that chair was ridiculous. I don’t like it either.
0:37:39 - Warren went on to be on The Killing, a show I didn’t watch because you people were all “this show SUCKS” and then a year later were all “this show GOT GOOD” and I hate when you do that. How can I even keep up?
0:38:55 - Debi Mazar quits her job because dumb teenagers laugh at her. Because life really doesn’t get better.
0:39:36 - Joe’s so mad he has to drum about it.
0:43:45 - The best part of this whole movie is obviously the soundtrack. Especially Toad the Wet Sprocket. Did you guys know how much I love Toad the Wet Sprocket? TK does. Sometimes I post video serenades on his Facebook wall. He’s lucky to have me as a friend.
0:44:45 - I like the girl doing ballet in the middle of the record store because I’m constantly afraid I’m accidentally dancing in public places because I’m dancing in my head. She is not wearing shoes, however, and that’s not OK.
0:48:00 - So, were we supposed to be surprised that Liv Tyler was on drugs? Because that comes as a shocking reveal, but she’s barely holding any semblance of “it” together this whole movie. Also, I know she’s a naive teen, but if you’re planning on giving your v-card to someone famous and you’re planning it all sexy dances and candlelit lunch with Wish Bone ranch dressing, wouldn’t you wear matching underwear? What’s this red bra and white underwear nonsense? Also, ugh, most complicated skirt to huffily put back on ever.
0:50:51 - AJ is really stupid. Like she’s full on sobbing and he’s all “THIS IS ABOUT ME!” and then huffs off. Everyone huffs in this movie. ANGST AND HUFFS. If this was Harry Potter they’d all be in Huffslepuff.
0:52:11 - Only Delores O’Rierdan is capable of capturing the proper level of angst.
0:53:09 - Liv’s lashing out at Gina is pretty out of nowhere. Like, all she did was lend you a bra. Cool your jets,slut shame.
0:54:23 - Gina should not have to feel ashamed for having sex with anyone for any reason. Except Rex. Because ew. But if it was 1982?
I GET YOU, GINA RIGHT NOW IN THIS MOVIE.
0:56:05 - No one’s doing any actual work this whole movie. Except when Deb’s doing quarterly tax returns? There’s either NO WORK or SO NOT IN THE JOB DESCRIPTSH WORK.
0:57:02 - Time for Deb and AJ to kind of have sex in the middle of the store. Everyone gets all mad at Gina, but what about these two launching a full-store orgy? A STOREGY?
0:58:11 - I just think delivering angry yelling soliloquies to a store full of customers is a poor business practice. Maybe Joe SHOULDN’T run the store.
0:58:58 - Also he’s beating the shit out of Lucas, and there has to be some kind of HR rule against that. Also, we learn later Lucas is kind of Joe’s adopted son with a history of foster struggles so that’s really not OK. EVERYONE IS TERRIBLE.
01:01:30 - “Am I fired?” “Have I fired anyone today? No. Why would I start with you?” No, but she is the FIRST person you’ve sent home, so what the shit is even your priorities, Joe?
01:03:33 - The customers sure have witnessed a lot of meltdowns today, haven’t they? I’m amazed this store makes any money whatsoever. How did anyone have time to spend $9,000 the day before?
01:04:24 - Ever notice how no one ever wipes in movies? Like people piss, pull up their pants, stand up and flush. The end. Gross.
01:05:44 - So Debi Mazar lives in Delaware? Is Rex Manning a Delaware-based celebrity?
01:06:58 - They pulled together this fake funeral really quickly. They also had a lot of stuff applicable. A lit-up cross? Full-body silk cushion. Sure why not. Also, of course everyone makes the suicidal woman’s fake funeral all about them. Also, Gina wanting to be in a band? Her garbage mom? LEGIT OUT OF NOWHERE.
01:11:34 - Like, WARREN GETS A JOB AT THE END. HE GETS TO JOIN THEIR GANG OF MISFIT TOYS. HE SHOT A GUN AT JOE. HOW DOES THIS WORK? ALSO, HE THREATENED DAWN WIENER WITH A VERY TIME-SPECIFIC RAPE. DAMN BRANDON SEXTON, WHY YOUR LIFE?
01:13:12 - “Considering the fact he’s a minor and he put blanks in the gun, there’s not a whole lot we can do.” Oh 1995. What a sweet time you were.
01:16:59 - When I get old, I want to be the ladies in the pink sponge rollers drinking beer at the rager. That’s my literal dream.
01:20:25 - AJ is missing the wild street party to fix the store sign. Also it’s midnight. No one can possibly be on the clock. Everyone’s been on since morning. POOR BUSINESS PRACTICES, JOE.
01:23:23 - It’s gonna take a while for Liv to start having appropriate reactions to things isn’t it? Drugs, man.
01:24:29 - And with a rooftop dance party, we must say farewell. Thanks for taking this trip through drug-induced nostalgia with me. I’d like to end with a request to the Theraflu people. START MAKING YOUR GODDAMN COUGH SYRUP AGAIN. WHERE DID YOU GO? WHY DID IT STOP? Is it because it worked so well? Did the government halt it so we’d still have bad colds? Is this some Illuminati shit? IS BEYONCE INVOLVED?
And by that I mean bye. BYE.