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Empire Records is an independent store with a quirky staff. But they are fighting off a corporate chain and all that means. Will Rex Manning day save them or will they have to fight as a team to survive? Cory and John continue the 9 to 5 triple fighting The Man to stay independent.
Empire Records shows the struggle against corporate growth that gobbled up independent stores that raged across the U.S. in the 90’s. Thankfully the U.S. is finally recognizing that we need both the chains and the local stores. In the midst of this struggle we get to see the lives of the ordinary men and women just trying to get by in their 9 to 5.
Joe Reaves (Anthony LaPaglia) is the manager of the store and he has entrusted Lucas (Rory Cochrane) with closing. Lucas counts the money twice, smokes one of Joe’s cigars and plays his drums but finds a Record Town buyout contract. Ever the enigma in his thinking, Lucas surprises everyone by going to Atlantic City. He is going to win money so Joe can save the store. He bets the store’s money and wins, bets it again and looses it all!
The next day A.J. (Johnny Whitworth) and Mark (Ethan Embry) get the scoop from Lucas before they open the store. They try to keep it quiet but the bank and the store owner, Mitchell Beck (Ben Bode) both call and Joe has to cover. He finds out Lucas is responsible from Mark. Lucas shows up but Joe is like a father to him and does not know what to do.
Gina (Renee Zellweger) picks up Corey Mason (Liv Tyler) on the way to work. Corey is a high school senior who wants to loose her virginity to pop star Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield) and Gina is all in to help. Rex is making a visit to the store to promote his new album and his PR person Jane ( Debi Mazar) is there to help. Rex’s fans older women and gay guys are lined up for him, but he knows he is washed up because the young women are not there. Corey throws herself at him but he rejects her and makes her reconsider. Gina, however, goes after him after a fight with Corey. Rex and Gina do the deed in the copy room and it enrages Corey.
Meanwhile A.J. is hitting up Joe and others about advice about how to express his love to Corey. He rehearses it over and over and finally professes it to her. But she has come up on the roof after Rex’s rejection and is in no state to accept it.
Warren (Brendan Sexton III) is a kid who Lucas catches shoplifting. Later he comes back with a gun, loaded with blanks. After scaring the customers, Joe and Debra confront him. All he really wants is a job at Empire Records and Joe will give it to him when he gets out.
Debra (Robin Tunney), has come into work after a hard night. She attempted suicide in the night, but came to work, her safe space the next day. She comes in and shaves her head. Berko (Coyote Shivers) band leader and fellow Empire employee tries to talk with her. Seems like they were in a relationship. She says it is not him it is her. Her friends all try to break through, but it takes Corey giving her a funeral to break though. They all eulogize her and in the process start to confess their fears and failures and it brings them all together.
In order to save Empire Records, help Joe, and save Lucas’ hide they come together. They throw a party with music, beer, and more. They raise the money to cover Lucas’ loss and show Mitchell he doesn’t want the business. Joe now owns the store and each of our characters are making progress. Corey confesses her love for A.J. and he has gotten in to art school in Boston so they can be near each other. It seems best summed up in Lucas’ words “Perfect…well almost perfect.”
The music in the movie is great because it spans so many genres. The mix of music and story in the movie is so fun. The story yes has a happy ending but each of the story lines are serious and real. Over all a fun move and my (Geoff) favorite out of this triple.
A movie set in a record store is going to have a fun and diverse sound track. Here are just 2 from the soundtrack.
Get the soundtrack here.
Next week the 9 To 5 triple closes out with “Waiting.”
Name That Movie:
The clue this week was: Renee Zellweger would go on from Empire Records and one year later see her stardom shoot through the roof thanks to this sports-based film…
Which lead us to the following movie: The movie is “Jerry Maguire.”
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