Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Movies I loved as a teenager: Pump up the volume

When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time watching movies-much more than I do these days. I grew up in the late eighties and early nineties, a time where there were great movies a plenty. I already mentioned some of the eighties movies I loved, including St. Elmo’s Fire and let’s not forget Some kind of wonderful, featuring my first crush Watts.

A movie from the early nineties that had a huge impact on me was Pump up the volume. To some people it might appear as one of those typical high school teen movies, but to me it was so much more than that.

Pump up the volume stars Christian Slater as the lonely nerdy guy Mark at a new school who does not really fit in. To pass the time he starts a pirate radio show in which his alter ego Happy Harry Hard-on (Yes, an eye-roll is in place here) addresses all kind of issues that the school kids care and worry about.

His radio show becomes a huge success, and of course the school, the parents and the police all want to shut his show down. They eventually do, but not before the nerdy guy gets a hot girlfriend, the adorable Nora.

Ok while writing the plot down I realized how cheesy it might sound. I guess it kind of is. Still, that does not change the fact I loved this movie so much I must have seen it at least 50 (!) times.

Why, you might ask. Well, let me tell you.

It was as if that movie spoke to me. I was a lonely teenager who did not quite fit in, who hated high school, authority and worried about all my self-created drama. These were exactly the things that were addressed in the movie; you know, how hard it is to be a teenager.

I thought Hard Harry was the coolest boy ever, and I wanted to be him. Or I guess be like him really. Then again, I also thought I wanted to be the cute girl he hooks up with. It was not until later that I realized I did not want to be her, I wanted to date her.
Plus the soundtrack of that movie was awesome. Unlike many teen movies that feature a lot of cheesy songs or the latest hits, Pump up the volume is all about indie and alternative music. This was 1990, before the rise of the guitar bands, even before grunge. The movie includes songs by Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Henry Rollins, the Pixies, Leonard Cohen, Beastie Boys, and a lot of other cool artists I was into as a teenager.

I watched it again the other day. I had not seen it in years. It was a little dated, and I admit, also a little cheesy. Still, I loved watching it because it brought back memories of those long ago times as a teenager. I could still remember what made me love this movie. I still thought that Harry was cool, the girl cute and that the music rocked.

I guess we don’t really change, we just get a little older.


Stacie Ponder said...

I don't know how, but I've never seen this one.

I wish my friggin high school ha a radio station. I was always so jealous of David on 90210.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

As for Slater movies, I definitely prefer 'Heathers'. Of course in hindsight it serves as a scary omen to what was to come with real HS violence, but then maybe we oughtta examine why we've gotten to this point...

israel corban said...

one of the BEST movies of the early 90's